With patches of palm tree and the shinning glare of expansive water appearing, I knew we had reached Uran – a place visited once in childhood and frequently in memory.
And nothing had changed though things had grown smaller, like the guest house with the titled roof where yesterday’s children ran in and around balconies playing or hiding each other’s things. Later those children were shouted at by their mothers because a half-read book had got left behind.
Had I come back to get it?
I don’t even remember which shelf the book was left on or if there were any shelves at all. I had come to see the intactness of the place. I was but a passing warrior laden with thoughts.
The place was unmarked by sunlight and surrounded by trees winged with cool air. I marked the place from where the cane baths were removed with a dry stick on the sand. These were the hideouts our younger selves had chosen to hide buckets of shells reeking with black silt and salt water, to outwit the boys.
Under the trees plastic tables and chairs lay. We arrived and sat upon a centre table with a hole at its middle announcing its ability to hold an umbrella. Palms and coconut fronds left breezing shadows on our skin. We ate hot fish. The waiters had changed, but obviously. And amidst the roar of the noon sea came the rotting smell of weed.
I set my squinting eyes on the sea's horizon humming inconsequentials and matching word for memory. The silt and the immovable black stone yawned in the noon more bleached and porous than ever.
A seabird made a shrieking call to the quiet.
Words hung and droplets of sweat etched our backs. A scent of afternoon as contaminated as leftover food, the moo of a distant cow and passing clouds eluded us on the periphery of our minds.
At that moment we could walk into any place restored by memory. We could also live on the other side if we so chose.
Once in a while.
Just once upon a time.