It looked somewhat familiar, the huge white building which could easily pass off as a very well preserved palace if not for the board in front of it which read ‘Director General of Police, Chennai, Beach Road’. The road on which the Chennai Thambi was driving looked unusually wide and clean. The footpaths were wide and you could see calm people strolling up and down; some trying to lose weight, some dragging their crying kids along and some trying to pep up some romance by holding their hands. The air smelled of salinity and the even the hordes of vehicles travelling up and down the road at that time didn't seem to matter much.
I was at a beach. Rather, The Marina Beach.
It was a visit to the sea shore after what seemed to be ages. This was a place, which never seemed to ‘modernise’, which in a way, was good. The guy with a small oil lamp, selling peanuts for a fortune was still in the dark corner so that his customers could not see the quantity he was selling them; the lady with her son selling the sugar cane extract was still moving the toothed wheel with her hand and spuriously telling her customers that the ice was clean; the guy selling the balloons was right in the middle of the human ocean selling his wares, encouraging the unlucky one’s to cry; the couple in the beach were tactically pushing people to shoot more balloons with the air rifle with the husband loading the pellets and the wife replacing the ‘fallen targets’; the chat vendor with the halogen lamp on his cart played the chef preparing the orders while his assistant kept running helter-skelter serving; families fulfilling their weekend promises; and the many couples finding solace in the clam and dark corners of the beach.
I started walking towards the sea. I removed my shoes as I stepped into the sand, to feel the warm and sinking sensation of the granules on my feet which were losing their heat to the pleasant evening climate. The air smelled of the marine life, the noise of the human activity really didn’t seem to bother. There was that sound from a distance which was always inviting, a roar of unlimited energy; the un-rhythmic but equally pleasing expanse of water.
As I inched closer to the shore, memories kept flooding me. Particularly the ‘We’ll go home once the waves stop!’ dialogue of my sister the first time we took her to beach. I paced, as it was my time to treat my senses to a long pending indulgence.
Run Boy Run.
And there it was! Camouflaged in the darkness of the night, sparkling under the heavenly light, it was monstrous in its might, sinister in its looks and welcoming in its beauty. The waves produced the music which no technology could equate and no Bach could equal. The sound of triumph, the heavy bass from the invisible woofers, the famous song from the ocean which is always played worldwide, and the sway of populace to the nature; well, I was indeed attending a live music concert from the front row.
The waves from distance looked like they were charging, like a cheetah which starts running upon spotting its prey, leaping into the air in between its alternative thrusts on the ground, before finally pouncing upon its victim. The first touch of the waves was pleasant, with the water being warm and the reminder of small wounds on the feet burning due to the salinity in the water. The sand right beneath the feet was swept away, making me dig my toes deeper into the soggy sand.
The waves pounced upon one another, some checking the progress of the advancing waves and some adding to the flow. The beach sand by then was sticking to my legs, something that would make us unpleasant guests. People around played, screamed, got wet, clicked, pulled and some walked along the coast. The heterogeneous moods tuned well to the homogenous atmosphere.
There was a moment when I closed my eyes, submitting myself to the nature and my flow of thoughts and listening to the continuous rhythm, when the sound seemed to pause, as if God had listened to someone like my kid sister on the beach so that she could go home. That moment there was a small panic, as if I had been experiencing a beautiful dream and a fear that it might turn out to be false.
Time passed quickly. I gathered up myself to walk back into realty and the cruel world where man, since he started taming the wild animal, took up his next target to tame the nature; exploiting everything from the life inside the ocean, the salt in the water, the oxygen in the atmosphere to the sand on the beach, unknowingly destroying himself in his foolishness to quest to claim supremacy.
There are miles and miles to go before I sleep………in peace.