Tuesday, August 21, 2007

prologue

After lunch at Viva Panjim, we—Sumu and I—sat at the entrance to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception clicking photographs and soaking in the sights offered by the surrounding old Portuguese buildings. Inside, we were informed of a special mass to be celebrated to commemorate the silver jubilee of Mr. and Mrs. Paulo’s marriage. Having edited a document on Sunday mass sometime ago, I bubbled in excitement at seeing what I had read about; I found a listening ear in Sumu, whom I familiarized with pews, procedures of the mass, vestment of the priest, and some more jazz. I flipped through the smell of freshly printed words, in hymnals kept on pews, that tried to hem in a quarter century of memories and experiences in speeches and hymns set within the narrow margins of each page.

Driving in Panjim, through the labyrinth of one-way roads, I managed to escape even the faintest drift of swatantrata-divas hoopla; I did somewhat feel like living in a democracy where some of us could safely afford to choose to not be vocal and exhibitionist in patriotic histrionics. Almost all shops and establishments were closed, and it seemed as if we were rustling the soft down of a giant creature—otherwise living and breathing—in a state of afternoon dormancy. We crossed the Mandovi River on a ferry with our bike—a rented Pulsar 150—piled on it. It was amusing to see people and their vehicles, including four wheelers, stacked on a motor-driven ferry.

Off at Betim, we rode northward through Calangute and Baga to Anjuna. I recognized a few places from last time and proceeded unasked to proffer information on them to Sumu. The Wednesday flea market at Anjuna being our target, we went there in the hope of getting good bargains. But it was not to be. Off season. I wonder if families could go through such seasons—a period of estrangement or feud to be immediately followed by a purple familial patch. Would you accept the deal, thus ensuring the inevitability of good times after bad and that of living in no fear of a permanent breaking of blood ties?

At Anjuna, we watched the waters shimmer the brilliant yellow of the setting sun. Some kids seemed up to their antics under the guise of raucous soccer, my recollection of an amputee distinct. She must have been around 7 or 8 and was without most of her left arm. In the shack, a firang uncle kept to the beats throughout with a frugal version of trance dance.

Later, in the evening, we strode up to vista point at Dona Paula. The first thing I noticed in the soft light of the waning crescent was the rippling waters that roared like an engine as they crashed into the shore. The lights from the Marmugao Harbour twinkled bright even when I closed my eyes. Behind my eyelids, I traced long streaks punctuated by short, staccato ones. A silence descended over me as I mulled over how my violently shaking hands had attracted much attention during a reading test before the class in kindergarten. I remembered Brodingnag—that place in Gulliver's Travels where everything was of a bigger size. Sometimes, memories resemble the inhabitants of that place—they are bigger than the minds nurturing them. Also, over the years, you dab colours to dog-eared, yellowed pages and read and reread them, drawing newer purports each time. And questions bounce off the pages, flitting in and out of your consciousness, to the horizon and back.

Much later, I couldn’t remember if it was a young boy’s dream. I grabbed at the earth, and the chunks in my palms were of the most beautiful hue. I dived into a tunnel of water, listening to the quivering inside and breathing out wondrous silvery bubbles, and I immersed myself in breathless seconds.

2 comments:

Still searching said...

Nice to read about ur trip.. I was wondering how that went! We went to Goa last yr at exactly the same time, and the flea market was closed for off-season then too... I love the way u've detailed every place! I don't even remember the names of the places I went to, let alone description!

And yes, I wonder if off-seasons, truces and cease-fires would work in personal relationships! Interesting thought! :)

satyajit said...

Thank you...