Curving roads. Empty roads. Surrounded by greenery roads. With arching trees and creeping vines. Like a grand entrance beckoning us, offering so much more in the great beyond. The cool moist air with a hint of the ocean as if caressing our cheeks. Off the highway, the empty back roads tell us this isn’t season time. Instead of drunk raucous revelers we encounter silent trees out for a parade covered in their greens. This is Goa in the Monsoons.
It is drizzling now, a hint of rains yet to come, but it is pleasant enough to be venturing out. We tell our driver to take us to the beach. Candolim being the nearest, we go there. He tells us that it’s a short walk to Calangute & Baga and we can call wherever we chose to get off the beach. It’s an interesting idea, probably more so because strolling on the beach on a rainy day even with an umbrella in hand would not have occurred to us.
Surprisingly the rain let off, though the sun was nowhere to be seen. The beach in the tourist-less pristine avatar looked gorgeous. The ocean foam snaking its spine, curving at the right places and every crashing way as if redrawing the lines to emphasize the curves even more. It was as if the ocean was a painter and we were witnessing a masterpiece in the making. And suddenly out of nowhere we realize, there’s nobody but us on the beach. We keep going, but we know, we’re just a few drops of rain away from scampering off in search of shelter, this beauty forgotten, this paradise forsaken.
We take off our slippers and hold them in our hands and as I lean over to fold my jeans, she runs ahead. When I look back up, she’s spinning around the beach kicking up sanding and sprays of water calling my name. That moment justifies the trip, the rains everything, it is pure joy. I can’t but help stare soundlessly, clicking a mental picture, to witness, to remember.
“Come here already”, she shouts, and I scurry over.
For that few moments, we have the beach to ourselves, the ocean to ourselves and are lost in each other. And then we’re running towards the water shivering when the first wave hits our ankles and then rushing back to avoid the undercurrent. We write our names on the sand with heart shaped borders with the tip of the umbrella which we know will disappear with the high tide but we do it all the same because it feels right. We stop and see a lone crab struggling against the water as it tries to burrow in. Then we walk back to wash the sand off our feet and I look back to see the way our footsteps intermingle to form a single path.
The wind, this seclusion, the sound of breaking waves, the hint of her touch, everything. It feels we’ve stepped into a place without time, where all the five senses come together to a standstill, even though there is no such place.
Its evening but it is still light, now there are a few joggers around us, we can see a few children playing a loud game of football in the distance, and there is a kite surfer out in the ocean trying to conquer his fear and perhaps the ocean as well. There is a middle aged woman throwing her net into the water in the hope of catching some dinner. I recall something about a month’s ban on fishing. We stop to chat with her and she says the waves make it very difficult to hold onto the fish even when it’s hooked. It takes a few tries before she lands her catch. We see a lifeguard station keeping watch over tourists stupid enough to venture into the wild sea. People like us, we think, wanting to rediscover some bit of lost childhood with their loved ones. Perhaps they know, so they let us until it becomes really dangerous. Were these people here all this time, we wonder, as we trudge along the shoreline. People pass us and nod, we nod back, everyone and everything we understand is part of the moment. We ask someone we pass to take a photo, a remembrance of this fine day. Even after he hands back the camera, we hold on, first each other, then maybe something greater than us, or the sum of us, something more.
We walk hand in hand as the invisible sun dips down the horizon covering the sky with orange overtones and outlines and the hint of the night. We call up our driver get off the beach and walk slowly to the road, just wanting to extend this perfection for a little while more. We wait in silence, the temperature has dipped and now she’s shivering, I put my arms around her and bring her closer, she looks at me and snuggles close while we wait in silence for the car to take us to our hotel. We are asked how the day was, not knowing how to explain, we reply quietly, it was just another day at the beach.