Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Beach

Could see the storm scheming up at the horizon. The storm announced itself through a confusion of colours that played smokily over the berserk foam - gray and black, orange and dusty brown, a bit of red overpowered by a blue so dark, it competed with black. I was sitting at the far end of the hotel lobby facing the sea. It was not exactly comfortable, nor could it be classified as romantic. The weather was too sticky and too sullen for any idea of calm to prevail. In fact, too much silence can get eerie for the unpolished soul. Silence was looming large over my cup of tea. Barring the gushing of waves that fizzled out on the beach and the splash of unruly large ones that hit some scattered rocks, all was silent.

A few more days and I would be back. I couldn't decide, what was worse - going back or staying here in the forsaken shanty of a resort. Three days had swept past in the freedom of loneliness, another three would pass in the contemplation of society that would flood me in near future. Soon I would neatly fold a week of recluse and leave it in the pages of a book to lie forgotten, forsaken.

The three-legged bitch was howling again. I could make her out from her silhouette, the way she slumped forward and moved gracelessly about made her special out of all the mongrels. All the dogs on this beach looked alike with their matted brown or black coats, multiple bites, flies hovering behind their arse and fleas hopping above their ears. But this bitch stood out because of her melancholy puzzled with a peculiar will to survive. She had a certain charm. She was strong and high-headed and more than ferocious when need be. She wasn't as reckless as the others, though. She had a certain style, a slow gait which she must have acquired over a painful period of maggots and healing.

I had tried to get friendly with her the first day I saw her howling on the beach. She had shot back a brief, vicious growl with her wet red muzzle stretched back to expose sharp yellow canines in full view. She had dismissed me decisively and limped away further into the sea. I had stayed behind on the beach feeling like a fool rightly snubbed for trying to mix pity with love.

I avoided her on all my walks from the next day and she ignored me just as majestically. I was getting restless hearing her sad, deep howls.

I abruptly pushed the cup of tea aside and started walking to my room. My bed was littered with clothes and books, pens and colour pencils, a cheap drawing book. I made myself some space on the bed and slopped on my stomach, face propped up by my hands, feeling utterly useless. My penchant for mess left me disappointed wherever I went. Even with an army of servants, I could manage to make a pile of useful useless things in my vicinity.

The morning looked a tad meek to glow in full brightness. The storm had apparently threatened the sun not to get to business right away. The morning looked a bit undressed, rather unkempt and unwashed. The beach was littered with carcasses of jelly fish, a huge turtle and innumerable thick, oblong calcium bones of cuttlefish. I pocketed a few for the birds.

I walked till the farther end, just where the beach curved suddenly and a brown rocky range came in view. The beach took a sudden change here, the sand got coarser in degrees till you only walked between sharp rocky edges. Here and there, the sea water rushed into a depression and stayed back for good. Small, colorful fish and transparent fry would dance about from one small end of the stony depressions to the other. At the bottom of dark holes lurked crabs that would wait for their prey with razor-sharp pincers.

There was a comfortable rock that I had mentally marked as my own from the first afternoon. Just below the rock was the largest of such inland ponds with a dizzying display of multicoloured fry. I had found a recluse within a recluse at this silent, risky spot.

No sooner had I sat on a rocky edge and had made myself comfortable watching the school of fry zig-zagging their way aimlessly, than the bitch silently appeared by my side and wagged her tail. I couldn't decide what surprised me more: her sudden presence, or her friendly gesture. I was still stung by her growl and her denial of me and gave her the cold shoulder. I was not going to talk with a dirty, self-engrossed bitch, I decided.

She looked the other way and sat down beside the water, curiously looking at the fry. She struck her paw in and out of the pool and amused herself as the school went off track with each of her well-timed splash. I was too irritated at the invasion of my privacy to actually admit I was enjoying her game.

She stole a glance at me when I unwrapped a sandwich, but a sniff later she looked away unamused and got busy with the fry again. This pissed me off further. I was hoping to have an upper hand by throwing a crumb with a proud swoosh of a hand aimed at her salivating mouth only after she had wagged her tail enough. She had denied me this chance to feel mean. The bitch, with all her attitude, left me fuming with decisive anger.

I knew she didn't quite approve of me. She knew I hated her guts. We both knew. And in full knowledge of our dislike, we struck it big time since that afternoon. For three days, we seemed to meet undecided, un-appointed. For three days, she snuffed off the sandwiches I ate with utter disgust and for three days I grumbled about how bad she smelt when the wind was in our direction. For three days, we kept each other company, a two-legged bitch and a three-legged bitch who both didn't quite like and yet understood the other so well.

Sometimes you don't need love, friendship or pity to strike it big. Anger, envy or dislike works just as well. Only if you don't hide what you feel, that is.