Paradise Perfect Moments
Sayeema Tori Hasan-sadeghi
Can we ever define a perfect moment? I believe not. We all have our moments when we feel that paradise lies within our reach and on truly rare occasions, within ourselves. I also happen to know bliss is usually short-lived and it comes in sporadic bursts when you least expect it. So here are my moments.
We live on the ocean. Literally. The gravel and sand start where the wooden stairs of our cottage ends. From where I am writing these words, I can hear the hollow ocean, smell the sea salt and see the aqua of the ocean and the blue of the sky through the palm trees. Every evening we can walk on the cushioned white sands and watch the sunset on the horizon if we please. I act really spoiled and sometimes would not want the waves lapping at my feet: the air is nippy and the water cold. It is not yet Spring. Now, just who ever said they did not want to get their feet wet while walking on the beach? Only those who do it everyday.
It was February 19, 2005. And we took out our jet-ski. Even in our full body wet suits, we felt the cold wind slapping against us and the icy spray of the water as we jetted through the ocean made us want to turn back. The sun was not too strong and there were several fishing boats bobbing on the ripples of the ocean. My eyes felt they would freeze over as a new splash of cold water hit my face. Then the sun shone and the ocean glistened like broken glasses shattered all over. And that is when we made a double take. Bathed in the sunlight, were silhouettes of two curved gray fins and moments later a round gray dolphin jumped and dived back into the motion of the wave! In my excitement, I almost flipped over our jets-ki. The dolphin came in and out and dived back and we soon found out she had her baby following her. We rode the jets-ki following them as they swam playfully around the waves. Then, we lost them. After a few frantic moments, we saw a boat at a distance with two men. One of the men was bending over and there it was, sure enough, the dolphin with her mouth wide open in a big smile to swallow the frozen fish.
We rode up to the fishing boat and what happened next, I will never forget. The mother dolphin swam up to us and raised her head to see if we wanted to feed her. The men threw over some fish and we fed them, touching their smooth snouts. The water was clear even in the middle of the ocean and we saw the baby staying close to the mother's belly underwater. We bobbed on the waves for several minutes and the dolphin swam around us gracefully, sometimes on her back, and splashing water with a smack of her tail. My heart went out to them knowing that we had no more fish and that is what they were expecting. I felt a tinge of guilt knowing that the joy we felt was not even partially mutual. But they are known to be one of the smartest mammals after humans. They must have figured out that we ran out of treats. The wind picked up suddenly and a motor boat passed by us creating a giant wake. Dolphins love to surf on the wake of boats and we knew that our dolphin's attention had been diverted. And just like that they swam away. We rode away and the moment ended but became forever etched in our memories.
You can never have too much of a good thing. So the next day, I did not care if it was an overcast gloomy day with the air a few degrees colder. I had to buy a packet of frozen sardines to feed all the dolphins in the wild. I almost wanted to settle for the known fact that seeing dolphins in the wild is a stroke of luck. But my heart did not. So off we went in search of the re-run of the moment, but as luck would have it, we scoured the ocean, far and wide in calm waters and the choppy waves that threatened to overturn us, but still not a sign of the beautiful creatures with the wide smiley mouths, the pointy smooth snouts and curved fins. I quietly nicknamed them Gray blubber. We wanted to believe every seagull or white crest of the wave told the story of a dolphin. Even with a tinge of disappointment, we learned to appreciate that dolphins are in fact wild creatures with a free spirit and they can be as elusive as they are friendly. There lies their beauty and the ecstasy of meeting a dolphin in the wild.
It was still wintry when we went out again for a frosty ride on the ocean. Just around where the dolphins swim are the beautiful clear waters of Shell Island, so called because of the big shells that wash up on its white shores of powdery sand. The natural dunes create sand dune waves for miles. This island is exclusively accessible by private boats and other water transport and remain relatively quiet even in the summer months except for a few lucky families or a couple of high-speed jet-skiers. In the chill of the winter, when we went, the island was exclusively ours. I could have sworn that there was not a third living, moving being in sight. All there stood were the waves of white sands, the gray sky and the dark ocean. All three stretched in infinity in all directions. And, we, the little people were enveloped in their never-ending expanse. I thought about the beginning of this world, of Adam and Eve as they stood on Earth feeling so miniscule in a boundless territory of wild nature.
My reverie was shortly broken by the characteristic wheezing sound of the jet-ski when it tips in the water. The wind had picked up since we pulled up on the shore and the waves were getting bigger. Instinctively, we smiled at each other knowing that it would take several efforts before we could successfully push back into the rough waters of the Gulf from the shore, ride the waves with both of us on board and make our way back into the Bay to the launching pier. But somehow it did not matter. We were in no rush to free ourselves from being stranded on a deserted island on a quiet, wintry day. As we stood there on the sand, a silence of thousand words filled in between us. It was perfect. The moment that brought us together and to the quiet realisation that we belonged that way. A pair of shrill sea gulls broke the spell of isolation, probably frustrated by the lack of fish in the water. As if in a logical series of events, what followed was a fish jumping up and then back into the water, creating ripples. Another one followed the act. All of a sudden everything seemed to exist in pairs.
Is midnight as magical as fairy tales would have us believe? I still did not know. And I did not go looking for it that night as I walked down the pebbly path to the beach a little after midnight to breathe in the distinct smell of the ocean. I felt restless inside the house. So I walked through a tunnel of mist, the yellow of the halogen street lamps muted by the rising mist. I stood on the beach, unable to see the ocean. I could only hear its slow rumble. The air was still and everything was lost in the mist. I had to touch myself to see if I had not turned into vapour. There was mystery in this moment. All the mystery I had ever looked for as a little girl to reenact in my life from the Nancy Drew books, I was living then. I was unsure of my surroundings yet not afraid. Never had uncertainty been so enjoyable. I don't know for how long I stood on the wooden walkway, expecting to be enchanted by surprises that would spring at me from the magical mist. Then the spell of midnight seemed to be wearing off. My eyes adjusted and I could make out the faint outlines of a wooden house among the shrubs on the beach. The pale porch light was still on, as if inviting my imagination to explore inside. I have seen that cottage, sometimes several times each day as I stroll up and down the beach. There was nothing special about it. The irony of it: it was a cheap summer shack for tourists who rent it for a week or two and mostly it would be a group of college kids who stood on the balcony and made it rain empty beer cans all evening. But it seemed extraordinary at that moment with a touch of timelessness.
So although my life, like I am pretty sure everybody else's, is not continually perfect, here are my perfect moments. These are life's little treasures that are hidden for us to find in what seems to be the endless folds of worry, hurry and decision-making. Moments like these arise spontaneously to give us the happiness that apparently all of us seek in one way or the other. And it is not like pure happiness is hard to find. Maybe sometimes the very thing we are looking for is the one thing that our eyes can't see.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005