As I leave Calicut, I realize that it is the beach I shall miss the most. It breaks my heart to think that I cannot return to my evenings at this beach.
I had always looked at beaches as getaways- places where people either sought fun or solitude….places where people wanted to be left alone to the privacy of their worlds. I always associated beaches with solitude….where loners or couples sat on the rocks or walked on the sandy stretches, drinking in the sunset and the infinity of the sea.
But I was in for a surprise at the beach in Calicut…
This beach was an ocean of people, throbbing with life.
A peculiar mix of people that reflected the character of that city. One could lose oneself in that ocean of people; I loved this anonymity. It was impossible to be conspicuous in that crowd and din. Quite unlike other beaches where one is wary of the stares of passers by and where one has to look out for shady characters.
This beach however, was like the open courtyard of an inn- an inn that welcomed every weary traveller.
The crowd was an assortment of men and women….of the young and the old. There were people sitting in silence, perhaps ruminating on their lives. There were excited exclamations as a group of children played in the water. There was the sound of taunting and laughter as a bunch of adolescents took selfies. There were couples celebrating their companionship. Old friends could be heard recounting memories. Someone was singing an old malayalam song.
Homeless beggars and wealthy businessmen stretched out on the sands alike, looking up at the sky, pondering on the intricacies of their lives.
For once, they shared the same physical space- the sand for a floor, the sky for a roof.
This beach was a living canvas- a canvas of human life. Here, I could see people drop their guards- their masks of defence. The human being that peered from beneath those masks, was the same.
Being a creature of the night, I was delighted when I had first visited this beach at night. The sight of women and children outdoors at this hour, was a welcome surprise, for it was against the general nature of Kerala. I walked past the petromax-lit carts that added to the character of this beach with their warm glow. Some were bhelpuri stalls, and yet others sold an assortment of fruits and salted mangoes.
I was mesmerized by the sight of the sea in this semi-darkness. A stretch of dark infinity interrupted by the tiny glimmer of lights from fishing boats in the distance, and by the sweeping arc of light from the lighthouse. It made me lose all sense of time. I felt I was a character from some ancient Indian story. I wanted to lie down on the sands and go to sleep. Surrounded by human beings who were strangers, but who appeared to be seeking just what I sought at this beach, I felt safe and secure…
A feeling I missed when I went to sleep in the loneliness of my flat in Calicut.
This feel was reminiscent of times when fellow human beings were friends, and not foes. To go to sleep in an open space without worrying about being attacked by fellow human-beings…was it possible in the modern world? In Calicut, it seemed very much possible. I remember how reluctant I was, when I finally left at about 11 pm. I envied the souls who continued to inhabit the beach…who would perhaps spend the whole night here, sleeping to the sound of the waves.
On another evening, I remember singing old melodies with a friend. The moonlight bathed the beach in its gentle sheen. I was transported to a world distant from the chaotic emptiness of the modern world.
Anne Frank was right:
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy, is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
Sitting at the beach in Calicut in the darkness of a cool night, I could feel the tranquility within…
All was well with me and the world!