Never Ending

I spent my childhood mostly in the desert city of Jaisalmer. We were neighbours to the desert. As a child I loved playing in the sand. I liked sand storms a lot. Almost every day there was a storm. As soon as I heard a storm approaching I would run out and stand facing my back towards it. I even tried facing it but it hurt me. I felt as if each grain of sand was penetrating through my body. In the evenings I would sit in the backyard of my house and stare at the endless desert. Sometimes I would go for a walk, sit on top of a sand dune and watch the sun set. It was all so beautiful. Sitting there I often wondered if the desert was so majestic, how the ocean would be?  I had read in my geography book about the ocean. Up until then I could not believe such a thing existed. I womdered how would it be to see such a vast expanse of water, just as this desert. All around me there was sand. It filled the horizon. There was a fine line that separated the brown from the blue. After the dusk I would walk back home, help my mom with the chores, have dinner and go to bed. My house was small. It had two rooms, one mine and the other was my patents’, a kitchen and a bathroom. Our house was more like a hut. It had a tilted roof of low height. My room faced the desert. It had an opening in the ceiling. I would lie on my bed every day and stare into the starry sky and dream. I dreamed about going to the beach.
This was my last year in school. Next month I would turn 18. In India when a child turned eighteen he or she had to leave home in search of an occupation. To learn a trade and then settle where ever he or she wanted to. This was my chance to go to a beach. I had been collecting money for this for some time now. I had bought a piggy bank last year during the desert fare. It was a cute little treasure box stubbed with sequence all over it. I liked it so much that when I saw it at a stall one day while hanging out with my friends, I went the next day to the fare just to buy it. Every night I would think about the waves and smile, and fall asleep entering my dream world again.
Since I was the only child, I had all to the love of my parents. I had all the freedom and time to do what I wanted to. My parents didn’t even mind me wanting to go the beach land. I would narrate stories to them all the time about my fantasies. They would smile at me and enjoy listening to it. I occasionally enjoyed telling out loud what went through my mind.
There was just a day to go before my birthday, I was very excited. I was turning 18, finally! My dream was going to become reality soon. That night I barely slept. It was raining the whole night. I lay down on my bed listening to the rhythmic sound of the rain falling. The wind blowing strongly and changing the direction of the rain. I don’t remember when I my eyes shut and fell asleep.
Next morning I woke up all excited. My mom had baked a cake for me. We three gathered around a small table in my room and they sang and I cut the cake. Then my father went to their bedroom, took out something from the cupboard. I was expecting a gift for sure. My mother asked me to close my eyes. With all the excitement I closed my eyes. And after few seconds they said,” You can open your eyes now.” There was an envelope in place of the cake now. I took the envelope, carefully started opening it. My parents stood there waiting for me to unleash the surprise. There was excitement but a little disappointment too, because I expected something bigger, of larger volume. I didn’t let my parents know that. I opened the envelope and what came out was a gift unmatchable to any voluminous gift. I read it out loud and shouted in happiness. It was a ticket to Bombay. The sea, the beach land, my dream, there it was. Happiness just poured out as though a spirit had taken over me. I was dancing all over my room, screaming, shouting and jumping. My parents kept looking at me with a smile on their face, acknowledging me. I spent rest of the day meeting my friends, went for a walk in the desert. Felt the fresh air of Jaisalmer for one more time.
My train was the day after. I spent the next day packing all that I needed for my journey and slept off early. The train was at eight in the morning. Everything was packed, we had our breakfast, and the three of us headed to the railway station. A horse cart carried us and my luggage till the station. We got onto the platform, the train was standing there. We found the coach and I settled in my seat. My parents sat inside for a while then they got off when the engine horned. I was nervous but excited even more.  I said my good byes and the train moved. My parents didn’t cry. They had that same smile on their face that said we are there, we love you, and we acknowledge you no matter what. That always gave me the push when I went low in my life. And the train moved. Slowly increasing its speed, and after a point they weren’t seen. I closed my eyes and I said, “Let’s do this!” It was a two day journey. I brought a book to read. I got food from the pantry. It was different but good in its own way. It had the Indian railways’ touch. This was the first time I was travelling alone. I kind of enjoyed it. Two days passed by and the train stopped at Bombay station. It was five o’clock in the morning. It was chilly but the excitement didn’t reduce. I wore my hood jacket and got off the train with my luggage. I had a suitcase and a leather sack. The station was abnormally noisy. I had never seen so many people awake at five in the morning. Absorbing the entire hustle bustle I bought a bread sandwich to eat from a stall and walked out of the station. I bought a road map of Bombay since I planned to walk to my destination. Walking made me feel more part of the surroundings. I could take in every smell and the beauty of what this beach land had to offer. I reached my first destination, which was the place I would be staying. It was one of my aunts’ house left unused for years. My parents had written to her a month ago about my coming so she had got it cleaned up. I opened the door to the house. It was small, had a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a whole lot of space in the front and back. I kept my suitcase and leather sack and lay down on the bed, socking in the beauty of this small hut. Without wasting any more time I took a quick bath, put on new clothes, filled in my needy stuff in the leather sack and locked the house. I was soon onto my next destination, the beach! On the way I had some delicious prawns. It was a sunny afternoon. It took me quite some time to figure out my way to the beach. And finally there it was the vast expanse of water. It was evening now. I left my leather sack on the sand and ran towards the sea. I wanted to feel the water fall on me like the sand grains in the sandstorm penetrating through my body. I was a bit scared at first looking at these huge waves coming ashore. The sun was setting. The view was just perfect. Nothing more could complete it. Finally I was here. My dream came true. The blue expanse and the purple orangish sky was divided by just a line. It was majestic. So I decided to finally go into the water. There were not much people now at the beach. Everyone was returning back to their homes. I liked the peace. The silent breeze blowing and the water touching my feet and pulling away the sand from underneath. I went into the water with my arms stretched out like I would when a desert storm was approaching. Slowly I walked till the water was till my chest. And the waves splashed on me like a donkey was being whipped. First I could handle it, somehow I kept my balance. The second one also went through me somehow. But when the water struck me this time I couldn’t take it. My feet swiped off the ground. I was somewhere in the commotion. There was no feeling inside of me. There was water all around. I was being thrown around, nothing that I could hold on to or even shout for help. I was trapped. I tried to fight my way out through those strong waves but I couldn’t. For few minutes this went on. Then I blacked out.
I opened my eyes, everything was blurry. The commotion was over. But my head was heavy as if filled with all the water from the sea. I couldn’t move much. I tried to figure out where I was. I was lying on a flat surface, but couldn’t understand what it was. I could see people with one leg instead of two, and their lower half of the body was shiny. My vision was unclear. I looked at myself. God!! I looked the same. I jumped out of whatever I was lying on, it was like I was in the air floating, and my feet were not reaching the ground. I was still in pain. I grabbed a lady’s hand who was passing by, and asked her,” What is this place? Where am I? And why is everyone dressed up weirdly.” She said,” This is mermaid land, and you are dead. People who die in the sea become mermaids and this is where you’ll live forever.”

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