Friday, May 13, 2005

Choices

The sea lay ahead, roaring out a boisterous welcome, as he trudged heavily through the sands, carrying his shoes. He liked it by the seashore and had never cared to reason why - a simple acceptance of a simple reality in a complex life.
He shirked company on these special visits to meet his old friend - the sea. Bringing someone along, he felt, would break the unsaid trust that had evolved between the two - he would come visiting during moments of crisis, and the sea would yield answers. The last week had brought about another. And he knew he needed help. Desperately.
He liked the sand clinging to his feet, leaving behind a fine film of grain as it fell; he noticed how the film grew finer with every step he took forward. He chuckled involuntarily, as he remembered telling a bemused friend that the sand was actually cleansing the feet before the water touched them. To him, the walk was a sort of preparation before a sacred ritual; a chance to clear his mind before confronting the truth - whatever that truth was.
He sought his hideout - a small cove surrounded by sea-weed. The cove changed shape with the tide, but he always found it. He slowed his steps as he strode towards what he had come to consider as home, and a faint smile broke out on his lips. Throwing his shoes aside, he fell in a heap, settling down as if on a couch, and brushed the sand off his hands on his trousers. He felt the damp mud give way under his weight and throwing his head up, he took a deep breath. The wind had that tinge of salt to it which he had come to like - another stage of cleansing, he told himself. The sea never failed to fill his senses - the cerulean water, the eternal song of the spray, the lingering taste in the air that was an exotic, eclectic mixture of sea-weed, salt and sand...The sea was always a total experience, of which he could never have enough.
After a while, his thoughts turned back to his crisis. He had to make a choice. Between two things he loved. Equally. He had tried to fool himself at times that he was more passionate about one of the two. But during those rare minutes when he allowed himself to see the truth, he knew in the deepest of his hearts that he loved them both. Equally. All his life, he had evaded making choices; waiting, holding on, until the choices resolved themselves. It was a trick he had learnt well. He had tried it this time around too, but it seemed like Life had finally decided to test him.
He saw a lone catamaran on the water, scything through the waves as it bounded towards the shore, its narrow confines overflowing with fresh fish. He watched the fisherman, his ebony body glinting in the evening light, struggling to steer through the stubborn waves. Life and Death on the same boat, he thought to himself. It was always like that. Life derives greater meaning in the proximity of death, he mused. And Death had many forms.
A crow cawed somewhere, splintering the silence, breaking his thoughts, and forming them to focus upon his crisis. He remembered the thought he had had a few days ago. What if every day was actually two days in itself. Then he would live one life one day, and another life the other day, pursuing both his passions. A double life, he joked to himself. Life was full of 'What-ifs', he philosophised, and he was facing the biggest of them today. 'What if...'
A wave broke upon the shore, and swept towards him. He welcomed it. The tension that held his body tautly together left him momentarily and he stretched his feet out. The foamy water lapped about him, wetting his trousers as it retreated half-heartedly, the sand changing colour with the receding wave. He liked the rich brown shade of wet mud. It had Life to it; a Life that drained rapidly as the water evaporated. The water lent a certain pride to the sand, he felt. It was no longer the servile sand that he had walked through, no longer subservient and clinging to his feet; it had Life which could be given shape and form. Life always took form, he observed, through the choices that one made. Better the choice, better the form it took. Like the sand that had chosen to be by the water, rather than further up the shore. The choice mattered, he knew. And he feared to make one now when more than ever he needed to. 'What if...'
He looked about him. The evening was fading fast into the sea and dusk was descending. He perceived a certain melancholy about dusk, quite unlike the arrogance of dawn. Maybe it's because the day is dying and it doesn't want to, he thought. A death it did not choose. He saw the stalls on the shore come alive in the distance as the hawkers lit lamps to keep alive their day. What choice did those people have? Living a life in which there never was a choice. Swimming in a river where the current of their destiny always took them to a waterfall. Should one be lucky to have a choice at all?...He was more puzzled now. He liked the confusion. It was always a sign that he was heading for a solution. He smiled as he realized how well he had to come to know himself. Getting up, he shook the sand off his clothes and headed for the cool of the water.
* * *
Lying awake on his bed that night, he marvelled at the ability of the sea to inspire wisdom in him. He had finally realized that when it came to choosing between things he loved, the actual choices didn't matter. They never do, he reasoned. What is important, however, is that there is Life in every choice. Whatever one chose, one always had the chance to discover Life through it. One only had to have the courage to choose, the faith to take that first step in the dark. That - the act of choosing - is what counts for more. As for the choices left behind, Life always has this funny habit of throwing others like them one's way at a later stage. Again, one needed just the courage to choose and the wisdom to recognise the choice. Life never cheats. Life never 'sucks'...His thoughts trailed off, as sleep threw its cloak over him. He had chosen, and he was not going to look back.

6 comments:

. : A : . said...

Pristine imagery. I really liked this piece. Some of my favourite lines:

I liked the newness in this one.
"the sand was actually cleansing the feet before the water touched them"

This is just the way I feel about the sea.
"The sea never failed to fill his senses - the cerulean water, the eternal song of the spray, the lingering taste in the air that was an exotic, eclectic mixture of sea-weed, salt and sand...The sea was always a total experience, of which he could never have enough."

eden said...

nice article!

musafir said...

@ .:a:. : Thanks for the appreciation, and am happy to know we echo the same sentiments about the sea - it enchants totally!

@ eden: Glad you like the writing. Keep dropping by!!

Brood Mode said...

i liked the frustration when u didnt reveal what the crisis itself was. I almost expected it, hence savored it.

Lovely piece

musafir said...

@ Brood Mode: Yes, it was a conscious decision not to reveal the choices - felt it was better that way :).

Thanks, your words are always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I discovered you quite accidently,and am so pleased
with this happening. I do so enjoy your style of writing.
The more I read each one, the
more I see.
caroline