Sitting by the sea, looking beyond the horizon
Here, sitting by the sea, away from the humdrum that is usual of a resort by the sea, I was thinking that even in this most crowded of places you could be alone and ponder on things that you ordinarily thought you did not have the time or opportunity to think of in the midst of people. Well, being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. Today, when the sun had reached the mid-day high, sitting under a Casuarina tree, I was looking at the beach at a distance. A black cloud had started to form in the distant horizon beyond the rumbling sea. How I wished the cloud had become bigger and bigger and broken down into a storm. Years back I had watched some such storm, sitting by the sea bereft of visitors. And it seemed like I was watching something ethereal. That it was not happening. That it was in a dream. Yes, dream! Not a nightmare. For that day I realised that even a storm could be beautiful provided you were the lone witness to it. Not only that. You also learnt how you could fend for yourself even in the worst possible crisis. Shakespeare's Prospero re-discovered himself through this tumultuous tempest when he came down to the trivialities of living all by himself devoid of the royal paraphernalia. And he, therefore, became a common man just like us, mortals, to sort things out as his ability would permit.
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
But that is another story. Now, sitting here and watching the beach inundated with people, shouting, screaming people, I realised that serenity was a word that only lay buried in the pages of the dictionary. While engulfed by the generous gift of nature I was so keen to enjoy the solitude by the sea and let my mind travel to wherever it wanted to go. I had come to this resort before. Indeed, I come here ever so often that I know it like the back of my palm. But on every visit I find the invasion on solitude expanding a little further. Every time I have to seek my spot a little further than the last time. I dare say, soon enough there perhaps will be no place where there will be space left in this resort for anybody to be alone sitting alone by the sea and letting the mind flow freely to wherever they'd want to travel. As I was thinking about all this sitting here on the beach looking at it, at the surfs breaking on the beach with a resounding sound, I could hear the shrieks of ecstatic human beings at times, even submerging the sound of the sea. I thought that age had the better of me. That it was only natural that younger people would want to match the tumult of the surfs breaking on the sandy beach. But then every age has its own will, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. So, here in this resort, how I wished things were how I would want them to be. Today I was thinking of a situation where I could only hear the sound of the surfs and the sound of the wind playing with the casuarina leaves and thinking whether a connection was possible between the older and the younger. Between the romantics and not-so-romantics. Between the peace-seekers and the thrill-seekers. My mind journeyed far and wide. I discovered that it might not really be so difficult for all age groups to find a common ground. A ground where we could all meet with simple common interests. Each of us could still have their own personal likes and dislikes but while coming on a platform that has a cross section of age groups, at least agree on a couple of things that they would think of similarly.
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
While I thought it was not impossible because of the differing ages, a couple of young people came walking to me, obviously detaching themselves from their larger group. They did not come to compliment me for my histrionics but were interested to know what I was doing all by myself. I thought, well this was strange! I had not seen many young people taking an interest in older and quieter individuals. I discovered pleasantly that these young men were given to reading Bangla poetry. Both of them, as they shyly claimed, were minor poets. Therefore, they were keen to uphold the serenity that nature gifted us with. I was very keen and a conversation ensued. We arrived at a consensus that when human beings are together, they are willing to hear out each other. But when they are on the beach or any other spot of nature's endowment, they are hardly interested to listen to the nature. We were only busy intruding into their lives, dishevelling their tranquility. One of them said that it would perhaps be better to sit and write a poem or two and not waste the precious couple of days being by the sea. These young men must have been at least 30 years younger than I but they had something in their mindset that brought them closer to the thought that was pervading me. I narrated to them a story of when I was travelling through the Aegean Sea on a catamaran. The sea was so blue that I took a piece of paper and tried in vain to write a poem. The starting was like this “The water here is so blue-green that I feel like dipping my pen in it and start composing a poem....” We laughed out together. An instant friendship started. I am certain that there are many in us, irrespective of age or education, who have the same mind-set when it comes to the subject of aesthetics. What we need is to seriously make a connection and exchange opinions with each other. So that, from nature to politics, from economics to literature, from science to art, a movement could be started that would eventually travel from the 'enlightened' few to the vast majority of the population. I refuse to believe that hunger for beauty, peace, knowledge or tranquility is limited to a select few.