Paradise Bay Resort, Room#2A
The sea breeze blew in through the open window, shaking up the curtains from their twilight slumber. As the light blue and white star patterned cloth rose higher with every puff of wind from the sea, the writer noticed that a photo frame on the desk was being nudged away from its position on the writing desk. Her eyes followed the trajectory that the frame was likely to take if it were to fall; she knew that, the cup of coffee that she had managed to elicit from the dilapidated coffee machine in the room, was in danger. She sat at her desk, chewing on her pen, wondering how long before she would have to press the buttons again for a new cup of coffee, when there was a crash followed by a dull thud as the photo frame fell, taking the coffee cup along with it, which obediently fell onto the day’s newspaper on which it was kept. A tiny rivulet of coffee trickled down to the floor below, while the rest was soaked up by the newspaper.
That’s more drama than I could drivel up in a week’s time.
The writer sighed and picked up the cup to get her refill. Once she won the wrestling match with the coffee machine, she went straight out of the room, to the hammock outside. She couldn’t bear to see the coffee stain on the newspaper and the floor and yet, disdain towards any physical activity, except for lifting her pen, made her wait for room service. She straightened her back and reclined like a princess, her thoughts wavering – I am a writer and I should write but about what?
Soon enough her body slumped into the shapeless hammock.
My mind is as shapeless as my body now. It is a garbage dump, tonnes of useless information gets stuffed into every day.
Of course, some were being dumped with the hopes of being retrieved and recycled some day. The recycling programme had failed miserably so far, due to a drought in creativity.
‘Damn!” she remarked, as she heard a pair of kids laughing and screaming as if they were animals let out of the zoo. “Haven’t these kids seen the sand and the sea, before?”
Her mind ached for some peace. However, between the coffee stained writing desk and a hammock with a view of the noisy children, she preferred the hammock. Back in her New York loft, she would have crowned herself with her ear-cancelling headphones and reigned supreme over a peaceful morning. But the lack of open space and the conspicuous absence of the sky at her window had led her to this beautiful island near Borneo. The sea, she thought, would help her smoothen her frayed nerves and focus on her writings. Little did she know that all the miserable people in this world, who were looking for their own chunk of the blue sky and a pail of the blue sea to dip it in, would descend on this island at the same time!
Paradise Bay Resort, Room #2D
She lay her feet on the cold, bare, stone floor and shivered involuntarily. Her husband was sound asleep, his gentle snore filling the otherwise quiet room. The air-conditioner was set at a pleasant 25 degrees. Even that seemed intolerable for her rheumatic legs. She groped gingerly on the numbing floor, searching for her slippers. After fumbling around unsuccessfully, she made up her mind and walked across to the bathroom door. All she wished to do was to walk on the sand at dawn and she was not going to let her rheumatism come in the way. As she finished her morning ablutions, a cursory glance at the mirror reminded her that she was no longer that twenty-something cherubic girl from the hills, who wanted to visit the sea. She could no longer stand and admire herself in the mirror, at least, not as long as she used to, and especially, not on a cold bathroom floor without slippers. There were wisps of grey framing her face and the shortest of curls lay on her nape. The wrinkles under her eyes smiled back wistfully, while the wrinkles on her forehead seemed to have temporarily disappeared. Old and weary in body, her mind though was at ease. She was on vacation with the man who had spent forty-five years of his life with her. She was away from her kids, on whom she had spent the better part of her life and the grandkids who had been the cynosure of her eyes for the past fifteen years. She was taking a much needed break by the sea.
She stepped out onto the dimly lit beachfront. The sun rays were breaking through gently as if allowing the moon to have his final few moments hidden from the sun. The moon does not want his place under the sun, unlike us, his glory lies hidden. Almost like the grandmother who stays behind the children, keeping a watch, lagging in pace but never standing still.
The cobbled path, in front of the cottage, was painful enough to make her realize her foolishness. She had decided to go barefoot. As she stood there contemplating on whether to turn back, a squeal caught her ears. It sounded so familiar that she had to return to her earlier path towards the beach. She saw two young boys, about the age of her youngest daughter’s sons, frolicking in the sand. She smiled and then frowned.
What were they doing alone on the beach? Where are their parents?
She looked around and then stopped.
Wait! Haven’t you done enough babysitting already?
She turned her back to the excited voices. Her pace calmed down and her footsteps became more steady as she felt the sea breeze on her skin. She licked her chapped, dry lips to find a slight saltiness.
I am near the sea!
She smiled and left the frolicking kids far behind.
Paradise Bay Resort, Room #3C
She took a deep breath as she raised her arms, the last stretch of her yoga routine. She had promised to join him for a jog around the track, once done. He would have finished his usual ten laps by now. Though she loved jogging with him, something pulled her away from the track in the opposite direction. Not just something, it was the ocean. Yoga on the beach was bliss! She breathed in the salty air, her face upturned towards daybreak. She need to calm herself down. Five years of marriage, blissful companionship. They completed each other’s sentences and complemented each other’s personalities. They had not felt the need for a third being in their life. Her house looked cleaner, neater and emptier than her numerous married friends, but she was happy or so she thought.
Past few family gatherings were wrought with awkward silences, as everyone discussed their kids’ school, eating habits and even poop, and then instinctively turned towards her. She knew there were whispers whenever she entered the room. She knew that whenever her mother smiled at her, the smile was laden with expectations. She was aware of the joy that her husband experienced, when he played with the young kids of his friends. But there was no longing in her heart, only fear.
Her mother had been an excellent mother to her two siblings and her. Would she able to handle it all as well as her? Her mother had managed her career as diligently as she raised her kids and managed her home. Was she up to it?
Even as she stretched and let herself surrender to the calm, the fear remained deep inside her heart.
Will I be a good mother?
A squeal pierced and rode over the buzz of the wind from the sea.
The kids were now playing with the waves. The yoga practitioner held her breath as her pose allowed a full view of the toddler playing dangerously close to the waves.
The writer from 2A spilt her coffee again as she stood up, straining to gauge the distance of the toddler from an incoming wave.
The grandmother from 2D clutched her pounding heart as she hobbled towards the toddler. He is about to be swallowed by the sea. Beads of perspiration ran down her temples.
The yoga practitioner extricated herself from her pose and ran. The writer ran with the coffee mug close to her heart, her t-shirt now stained with coffee. The grandmother was the closest and as she cried out, a pair of hands came from nowhere and swooped the toddler out of danger.
It was the mother! She tickled him, enjoying his gurgling laughter and warned him not to stray away from his brother.
The writer slowed down to a stride and took a long sip from what was left in the coffee mug. Thank heavens! She uttered a silent prayer.
The grandmother strode purposefully towards the mother, she had to give her a piece of her mind.
The yoga practitioner who had reached the spot just after the mother scooped up the toddler, kept looking at the joyous pair of mother and child, foolishly. The mother did not seem afraid at all! She turned towards the sea. Maybe motherhood is like jumping into the sea. Fear may hold you back, but love will keep you afloat.
As beautiful it may seem, the sea could be dangerous, like the unbridled enthusiasm of the youth. The grandmother returned, walking with perfect gait.
The sea is the nourishing mother, spilt coffee notwithstanding. The writer walked towards the beach, the seed of an idea just being sown in her mind.