Sunday, April 7, 2013

Conversations On a Cliff Top

"My husband I could understand...", she said while taking a sip of the new cup of coffee the waiter had brought. The wind played with her hair, which had been let lose. "He needed help. But it's his family, mine, including my parents who had loved me throughout their lives... It was them. I could never understand why they were so persistent."
She kept staring at the sea as she delivered the words in a low monotonous tone. I found myself lost for words. I didn't know to react. Did she want me to react? Or contribute to the argument perhaps? Was I better off as a silent spectator?
Fate or as non believers would say "lack of seats" had brought me to this seat facing the lady.

 I could not come to a conclusion on what was to be done so I gave a very timid "Hmmm" in response. I was partly lost in the complex world of memories, constantly jumping from one to another, like a convict who had escaped the prison, haunted by the guilt and a deep sense of fear. I did not wish to come back to reality. Yet this lady, who had been silent all this while, had aroused a sense of curiosity in me.
A week ago, while I was on my regular rounds at the oncology ward, I had listened to a relative of little Gina (a four year old Leukemia patient) tell her mother the story of a two year old cancer patient. I had wondered why people, usually close relatives or friends, always assumed that stories of sorrow acted as relaxants to the ones suffering themselves. 

Yet I found myself incredibly drawn to the lady in front of me, glued to the belief that her story was far worse than mine. The truth is, nobody likes to believe his/her life is going really bad, and would readily swallow whatever reassurances they can get.
"You are not reading. One doesn't blink that much" she said, staring at the sea. 

Old fishing vessels tied to wooden poles were dancing rhythmically to the waves which were gaining strength steadily. Dark clouds were filling up the horizon. A storm is imminent, I thought, as the cool breeze knocked an outdated table calendar off its upright position.
"I was thinking...", I replied.

Noticing her callous attitude, I looked around for free tables but the probability of a storm hadn't scared away the tourists from this hut, precariously positioned at the edge of a rocky cliff.
For the first time after starting the conversation the lady looked at me in the eye. I could sense the depth of sadness on that face devoid of any make up. Her eyes looked a little watery as it reflected the sea. I could easily imagine a younger version of hers, perhaps 30 years back, giving men a real pinch in their hearts.
"Are you married?" she asked.
I looked at the sea again. Sea gulls circling around the coast with real interest. Sometimes big storms and violent waves drove schools of fishes to shallow waters making them easy targets for their aerial predators. For a second I wanted to be a fish. To be that one in the million, riding the waves and just doing what everyone else does.

There was blood. It started out as a small drop. I was finding it hard to breath. My companions were all gone. The school had left me alone in this strange sea.

Suddenly my right fin stops working. I realize my time has come and that I am going to die. I was beginning to lose my balance. The currents were carrying me to different places.
I am astounded by what I see. There was light piercing through the water. I couldn't understand where the light was coming from or what its source was. I have not seen such a sight all my life. It has to be something super natural.
My body hits the sea floor and I realize that my right eye has gone completely blind. I am looking at the surface with the other eye. Images were getting dimmer.
All my life I had lived looking 'sidewards'. I had missed out on such a beautiful sight. And to think it was there, right over my head. If only..

She had been staring at me as I suffered another attack from dreams. She analyzed my face thoroughly once and then turned to watch the storm develop. The clouds were all assembling, like allies before a war, gaining the minimum strength required to wreak havoc. It was fascinating how the elements of Nature worked. Constantly striving for equilibrium, that fine balance... Where there was low pressure, the winds rushed in to nullify the difference. We mankind are a total contradiction to the laws of Nature. Even our systems like 'money' and 'love' are.
"Yes...", I replied.
How had it come to this? To that very question I had wanted to run away from? Why can't I avoid the 'present'?

(To be contd..)

Link to part two HERE


Anisha Ranjit said...

I read both part 1and 2 now waiting for 3

You have written it well but the flow from one scene to the other is lacking. It's like I start to enjoy n at the beginning of every paragraph I'm wondering are we still at the cliff top?

I'm no writer to give feedback technically but as a reader that's what I felt.

Nevin said...

Thanks Anisha. I got the same feedback from everyone. I'm making some changes for part 3.

Priya Bala said...

hmm :) your ways of conveying the matter are very interesting! :) good thought process too! keep it up! :)

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