We meet at the bus station in the morning. The night before was spent in one of these, running 80/90 miles per hour through darkness in a river of moving headlights (like cat’s eyes). We get in an auto rickshaw. We join the morning traffic in sweet silver sunlight. Roads go up and down as they are cut out of hills and through the hills. I lament the loss of hills, mountains. A fallen tree inspires an elegy. But she puts her arm around mine abruptly. Nothing else matters anymore, abruptly.
“The book was good.”
“You read it?”
“It was a kid’s book.”
“I liked it, really.”
“You still have it?”
“No, I think I left it back in home, may be.”
We are in a bus running at a modest pace through the hills and trees. White daylight and elongated shadows. People get in and out. Talk in an Indo-Aryan dialect. We are going to the Beach. Her hand is in mine. She is sitting by the window. She teases me. I praise her strong grip. We can’t hear each other over the cacophony of the Indo-Aryans, the horns. At noon the bus stops before a Mosque. I look out of the window. It’s Jummah. The congregation of wanderers pays their Salah on warm asphalt. She splash water on her face. I close my eyes.
“That was stupid.”
“We were young.”
“But I never took you to be as crazy like me.”
“I was always the crazier one.”
“No you were not. You act like one. You act like you are this wandering poet. A rebel. Like some minstrel or something. But actually you like to stay at home.”
“Well, if you say it like…”
“And you are a hypocrite.”
After 4 hours on road we get out of the bus. I’m by the sea. A roaring sound is filling the air. We walk hand in hand on the sand. I complain of the sand getting in my sandals. She smiles. The sun is on the western horizon, a couple of hour away from setting. The day of Frige is ending. No more sand under my feet, wet sand and seawater. I take off my shoes. You do the same. I try to fold my trouser-legs. You hold my hand pull me forward. After that any perspective is lost. A kaleidoscope of sight and sound and sensations engulf me. It’s like being in a Terrence Malick movie.
Warmth of the sun and coldness of the breeze. A wide azure sky above. Dark sand and seawater underneath. Tiny white crabs shuffle in the water. Nearer to the sea, waves break against the feet. Water rises and nearly reaches the knee. Underneath the sand wash away with the pull of tide. Surfers ride the wave. A girls hand in my hand. Laughter. White foam of the waves.
“So how are you?”
“You are terrible in making small talks, you know that?”
“Shut up, please.”
“I wasn’t ready for it then.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Will you mind if I punch you in the face?”
“If you really want to…”
“I think I should go.”