And this is a journey too…

The year doesn’t matter. This is about the age and the time and the year doesn’t have much to do with a specific point in time. If we must talk about the year, it was an year around the cusp of when teenage and a peek into the life beyond hopscotch squares and giggling over bike rides around the mango orchards was scary, intangible and exhilarating. Being an adult is not something you can grasp when you are firmly ensconced in the no-man’s land between a childhood fast receding like a summer shadow and a teenage that sullenly walks with you but refuses to say much.

 

Summer breezes and the slivers of the sparkling, shimmering Indian ocean on a school trip is how this memory unravels itself. Sun and sand and laughter and shy smiles. Like any walk down memory lane, this one too meanders, mind you. Much like a set of footprints at a beach that will inevitably get wiped away after the bounty of the next tide. Crowded dorms and “thali meals”, sunsets and building castles at the beach and collecting starfish and shells and racing the tide are what this time was all about. The first real trip as a teenager, away from home. The same faces that surround you in school every day but suddenly by the sea-side these are the faces of people – real people –  and not just the usual contingent swathed in the bottle green and chequered school uniforms.  It is an era of discovering that your hair looks nicer if you wear it a particular way. That the boy who sits two rows away from you, is _actually_ staring at you as you navigate the dorms to get your meal. It is wishing for the first time that you had swankier clothes to wear even when though you have no clue how to dress up better.  And so you borrow the “know-all” girl’s lipstick and hurriedly wipe way the remnants of the gloss from your lips almost as if the red tinges on your lips speak openly of your longing to grow up overnight.

 

Sometimes you don’t even know when love shares your seat on a journey. You think the seat next to you is vacant and there is love in all its regalia, wondering if you will acknowledge its presence and yet your eyes are on the destination and you don’t realize that sometimes love gets off several stops earlier, sulking because it is unacknowledged. And then you get to the destination and there is no one waiting for you underneath the crowded bus- shelter and you wonder if this is where you were supposed to get off. And all this while, all this while, love has been ruing the incomplete journey as much as you have. And you both go your ways wondering if the journey was never meant to be which is often an easier thing to accept than the sad truth that you parted with your co-traveller when you didn’t need to.

 

And there you have it, a shimmering ocean, a vacant seat on the journey, the young lad from across the second row staring at you, and the same song playing endlessly on the battered tape deck of the hired bus. You haven’t heard the song in the past and you don’t know that in the future whenever you hear this song, time will skip backwards with a twirl and raise a suppressed murmur of unsaid words in your heart. You listen to the song and the pledge of endless love and you think “endless like till you are grown-ups” and you would be right in a way because being adults in some strange way does include spring cleaning your heart and your memories and your baggage and throwing out a favoured pebble, a dried rose and an old card smelling of glue.

 

You don’t know it then but love doesn’t get easier when you grow up, what gets easier is knowing when to get off at the crowded bus shelter even when there is no one waiting for you. But the thought of endless love is giddy at that age and you smile back at the boy who smiles back at you. And you wonder if this is love, even as you wonder if he has noticed the new shoes and the borrowed sunglasses and the traces of makeup and that you are singing along to the song hoping your words and his meet somewhere mid way.

 

The boy is shy and you are too and you would rather giggle with your best friend about the hapless waiter who messed up your order again. And so you never get around to talking to him much. You stare in awe at the other “couples” who are actually talking and walking along the expanse of the waters and you hum the song to yourself. There is a tiny but defiant storm in your heart, where you have no words to articulate how you feel about everything – the boy, the ocean and the song. Years later, you identify this as the season of the heart getting to know itself but that afternoon by the beach, you realize that life, the real “this can and this will hurt and you can and you will survive this” life is about to happen.

 

Perhaps it is a premonition, a prediction or perhaps you have listened to what the heart has been trying to tell you all along – life doesn’t have a plan, always. That is all you need to know when you are travelling. This is about a meandering memory like I said. This is about a snippet of time, complete in its lack of conclusions. The trip ends, normalcy and high-school resumes and you never see the boy again after year 10.

 

You read his obituary in the local paper, he killed himself a few years to the day you stared at each other across a sand castle. There are no answers and there are no questions and you didn’t even know he didn’t live round the corner anymore. By the time you realized that he had moved away, he really wasn’t around the corner anymore.  

 

This is not about the year like I said.  This is about the age and the time –  the age and the time that you leave behind. When love and life and age terminate their voyage abruptly; a snippet of a song, a flash of the ocean and an old school photo tell you that sometimes the only way to make peace with life’s plans is to travel backward in time, when all else fails. And that is a journey too….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. asuph
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 08:53:04

    of course it is. and what better journey?

    the ease with which you do this, it seems really simple. and while i keep on saying that i’d like to see you writing out of your comfort zone, because i know you are capable of excelling there too, i realize this is not easy.

    keep writing,
    asuph

    Reply

  2. Aria
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 16:07:06

    so many wonderful poetic lines ..
    absorbing .. like always.. I read every line twice .. relishing them .. and then as I completed the piece .. read it all over again ..

    Reply

  3. enig
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:34:28

    you have a strange way with words, Scarlett…it makes life seem like a poetic journey…I’ve always felt so much at peace after reading what you write…like reading a beautiful book…meandering, confusing at times…but ‘beautiful’ nevertheless…don’t know if I’ve told you that enough 🙂

    enig

    Reply

  4. enig
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:37:04

    what’s this thing with automatically generated ‘possibly related’ posts..I thought it would lead me to some of your old posts having similar tags….but it leads to some other websites…

    Reply

  5. La Louve
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 18:18:56

    i rarely comment on your blogs – because i feel my comments just are not worth ‘it’. Your blogs are so full of emotions, so unreal yet real, so damn good basically.

    Completely read and live into this one. You write too well …
    these journeys – we sometimes seem to have left behind and forgotten in deep recess of the mind. I went on a school trip to a small island when i was a teen – you reminded me so much of that trip.

    Reply

  6. Scarlett
    Oct 10, 2008 @ 22:25:55

    Thanks Asuph,Aria, Enig(where have you been girl? – you have been awarded and all) and LL.

    Much appreciated,
    Scarlett

    Reply

  7. enig
    Oct 12, 2008 @ 05:41:21

    hey Scarlett..thanks for the award, girl…don’t think I write enough to even faintly deserve all those good words…I’m almost coming out of hiding, though..wud be completely out very soon!!

    enig

    Reply

  8. Rups
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 15:40:06

    Beautiful…your words brought back a lot of memories….of times when life was simple and happy…..and of a boy who smiled back

    Reply

  9. Scarlett
    Oct 24, 2008 @ 10:02:10

    Thanks Rups. Do drop by more often 🙂

    Scarlett

    Reply

  10. Lucile
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 03:24:26

    This is so enchantingly beautiful.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  11. scarlettletters
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 13:56:21

    You are welcome Lucile 🙂

    Reply

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