I walked gently towards the face of the ocean. The evening was settling in between the distance from the beach to the mark of the water. The sand glittered in black streaming into the ocean. Birds were seen as mini constellations in the sky. The La Jolla beach was filled with the sound of the retreating steps. Unfazed for a moment, I blankly stared at the wholeness of the ocean. Water went past me rolling over my feet before receding to the present. I sank deeper into the wet sand. “This is what life likes to do,” I heard myself murmur, “every time it hits you, it sucks the sand from under the feet.” The waves tumbled, making a loud noise as they smacked against the big rocks. I gathered myself with caution looking straight in the eye of the horizon.
Back in North Carolina
My new apartment in the new country was gloomy. It had a sunroom with tall windows that opened to the woods, but mornings came into the house in weak streaks. The wood by my house semi-circled a lake. A freestanding gazebo jutted out into it as a wide tongue of the wood. Often, during sunsets, I found myself in the gazebo admiring the velvet skin below. There was nothing else to do. One regular morning, as I stood on the edge of the gazebo looking beyond, I felt an odd pull of the water. Time lapsed without notice, and I yearned to touch its smoothness, to melt into it like butter melts in the sun. The lakes do not have a voice. Perhaps, they all speak in gravity.
I had soaked in so much that it was quite impossible to carry myself back to the world. Heavy with the weight of loneliness, I could have only drowned. It was then that I realized how life happened to me in a country far from home, and all that I had to do was to live through it.
In the heart of Calcutta
Everything seemed to move in slow motion as my 27th birthday approached. The August days were long, lingering. Occasionally, it would rain in the evening till night or at night until morning. “So, how do you want to celebrate your last birthday as a bachelorette?” my mother teased me. Soon I would be married, leave everything behind, and restart life in a different country. Ugh, I shrugged off my thoughts and got ready for my 5 o’ clock rounds.
As I climbed the stairs to the terrace, those tiny round eyes scurried back under a discarded cupboard. They were fragile, a few months old, born amid a pile of broken household items in a corner near the entrance of the terrace. The five kittens of a stray cat would limp and fall and limp, climb down and up the first few stairs, without ever giving a thought to the criticality of their physical condition.
Although weaker, my brown-spotted Mewmew was so brave that he lasted longer than his siblings. He would muster the courage to walk alongside me or hop in circles in the rain while others ran back inside on the sound of the thunder. Mewmew lived each day with the unfaltering excitement of being alive until they all died one by one from a congenital disease.
It was in March that I took the flight with my husband to the United States of America.
From the beach, I could see the Pacific breathe, sometimes too heavily. I heard about the storms that rumble in the heart of the ocean swallowing the sailors alive. The turmoils in the ocean. Water swells and breaks on the shore but the future of the water is the ocean itself.
I stepped up on a piece of the boulder to feel the air on my face. The last trace of the sun lingered on the horizon. Beyond the waves, the ocean was composed like an adult in the late fifties. Deep. Glistening wherever the light touched it. Still standing on the rock, I inhaled the entire ocean in one long breath.