They came, they receded. They came again, they receded.
I noticed them making a different pattern each time. The sharp shadows of the palms swayed in the refreshing summer sea breeze. I could feel the sand particles drifting from under my feet and the clouds from my sight. The sun was almost setting, while a myriad of thoughts had just dawned in my head. It was time of great anguish.
It was September and the depressing monsoons had ended. The coast was badly hit. Narali Poornima, the fishing season had just commenced. It was going to last till the end of May. I had always accompanied him every morning to catch the Surmai. Waking up at the crack of dawn, I would learn fishing techniques from him. He taught me how toss a cast net into the waters, to predict the sea and the tidal pattern. Every morning hundreds of fishing boats would come back after fishing and gather to auction their catch. He loved to argue and haggle with the traders. Saving a fish or two from the catch, he would quietly come and place them on an ice slab in the kitchen for mother to cook at night.
Sitting on the moist sand, gazing into the pale waters that flung the Konkan coast, I remembered how I celebrated my first catch. I was only eight that time. I jumped off the boat, almost hurt my toe and darted in from the coast towards him, holding a small shrimp by its tail.
He always considered me no less than a boy. While the other girls tied their hair in pretty braids and ribbons, my feet suffered from skin allergies because of being in the water for too long. We would sit together on dark moony nights as he showed me the different constellations and the phases of the moon. He told me that monsoons were the worst time to go fishing. The tides were high, the waves fierce and the sea rough. Nobody knew the sea better than him but I don’t how he had misjudged it this time. The sea was after all his best friend, as he was mine.
For the first time, I had ventured into the sea alone after the thirteen days of mourning. My mother walked me to the shore, kissed me on the forehead and waved an awkward bye with a broken smile. The last words of my father resonated in my head over and over again.
The oars never felt so hard on me. I saw them shuffling, jumping to catch a breath. The big round eyes stared at me as if pinching my conscience. The glossy gills were hurt, the fragile fins bled. I was used to seeing all this, but had never seemed to notice it as much as I did today. The big blue sea had suddenly turned into the big bad sea.
As I sat that evening on the glistening sands, I thought to myself, life was just like the sea, moving steadily without an end. After hours of reminiscing, I pulled myself together because he had passed this legacy on to me. He belonged to the sea and had ultimately become one with it. What remained with me were just the memories of him that touched me just us as waves did every day.
They came, they receded, and I let go.