He told me his family rarely visited this beach when he was a kid. I asked him why that was, since he grew up so close to it? He said his parents were so busy making ends meet and ensuring a family of 9 gets by, that they had no time for outings.
We paused briefly, when he pointed to a stray shard of glass in the sand. “This is the one thing you need to be careful about here”, he said as he flipped the piece over with his big toe and dug the sharp edge back into the sand firmly. And my inner voice cleared its throat to ask another lofty question– what is the obsession of this country’s young men to break beer bottles in places of recreation?
He then said, almost answering my inner voice, “You can’t do anything about it.”
As we continued walking barefoot on the sand, I asked him how the Casuarinas were so perfectly aligned for miles on end on the coast, “Surely they couldn’t have naturally sprung up, could they?” He told me that the panchayat plants and maintains them. Ah, no wonder, I thought.
He pointed far in the misty morning distance and said, “That is my mama’s village”. I remembered his mama was an extremely talented man who died as an alcoholic. I had never met him, only heard stories about his mama from him.
We turned around and said nothing for a while.
I then told him about this new audio bit I had heard where the speaker talks about ‘rejecting others, groups and consensus’. I told him how deeply that resonated with me. He added “I like the way your guy puts it—a group looks to serve itself and no individual.” That was my cue and I kept going on. He smiled and nodded along, he knew the speaker was a current obsession of mine.
I asked him if this coast was part of the fishermen welfare organisation that his friend heads. He said, “Oh yeah, this and beyond, for the entire state I think." “Wow! didn’t know that...” I said and asked of his friend, “will he get into politics then? with such clout?” He laughed and said, “No way!”—almost hoping such a terrible thing doesn’t befall the very dear friend of his.
As we were about to leave he asked me if I wanted a snack. As intentional as I have tried to be about eating in the past few months, I thought I should simply say ‘yes’ and not break the flow of a morning as lovely as this. So I did exactly that.
Relationships are conversations.