Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1. Bondi

Bondi Beach
Sydney, New South Wales
Photo Source: postcardsfromaus.blogspot.com

The sky. Deep, all encompassing, blazing in the noonday sun. White clouds drift lazily towards the thin line of horizon. The beach, only yesterday sweeping down from the promenade in a wide arc of spotless white sand, is now thickly studded with people. A multitude sprawled in almost complete nudeness permissible for the occasion, exploited with profound dedication. Young womanhood in cleft, freckled tautness, bared to an inch from the last remaining punctuation of female anatomy, is languidly reclining within easy hand span of their escorts, fur-chested, sunglassed males in pouched briefs. Further down on the beach mums and dads, with blotches of sand clinging on pallid thighs and varicose veins, watch their young in the surf romping with squeals of laughter in bursts of splattering spray. Transistored pests twang discordantly in the steady crunch and whoosh of breakers on the sands.

Look, there by the water: that blonde in the summer dress. Slender figure, clean, delicate cut of the jaw, head tossed high with hair billowing. Barefooted, she holds her skirt above dimpled knees while stepping gingerly with flashing legs over seaweed littering the beach where it runs into the hissing water. Her dainty feet leave shallow imprints in the flat shelf of sand, left gleaming wet by each wave drawing back into the sea.

She, that girl. How she commands all attention amidst the cloying generosity of bikinis! See those man-heads turning avidly to the skirt-and-blouse lass. A cause for wonder - and for a memory of long ago.

Photo Source: flickr.com

The rock path leads to a patch of grass on a secluded spot, away and high over the beach, overlooking the wide expanse of the Pacific. Dull, shimmering, tiny flashes of sunlight caught on water ripples break the monotony of the vast, blue haze. One may bask here in the sun and scan the horizon. Look, there is a white speck way out on the ocean. A sailing boat. Where is it going? To another part of the world. To the old country? The binoculars do not discover anything else of interest, and swing back to focus again on the tiny, triangular sail, floating all on its own in the wide ocean. Is it really moving? Yes, but slowly, very slowly, breaking through a barrier of wind and water to get across to wherever it is going. Then, out of nowhere, the sudden, stirring thought. It is not just a sailing boat, but a trick of light. It is an idea, a plan materialised in vision. Something I wanted to do all these months. Don't I know? That boat is on a journey to years gone by, as my thoughts are, breaking through a barrier of time.

The wind carries snatches of bustle and clamour from the beach. A whistle, shrill and piercing, the deep roar of a sports car, the chime on the ice cream truck back on the road. High aloft, a seagull is wailing dolorously. In the sights of the binoculars the little boat is protected in an orbular sphere without sound. No, not quite without it. It seems to lie waiting in a rushing silence, out of which a note rises to fly across the waters. A faint, far note calling me to embark on a journey.

On a journey to happenings of the past, to a procession of faces appearing before my closed eyes. Faces with features still, or with moving lips forming the words which all these years have lingered on in memory. A journey to scenes and sounds embedded in mind forever, some good and pleasing, and some ugly and revolting. Some faded far away, some as clear as if they happened yesterday.

To the laughter and chuckle of friends, the cry, the snarl of hate. The colour of bottomless deep water, the splitting and trembling earth. Lips moist and alluring, lips drawn over the teeth in death. The sough of a gentle breeze through tall grass, clouds racing before the gale. The ice cold snap of a gun breech, the hoarse bark, and blood flung on the sand. The whispering, the kisses, the fragrance of smooth, fair skin.

To the goodness and bliss, the fear and anguish of those turbulent days. To recapture the feeling of the soul as it came to life, or as it died within, as it was exposed in men, and in beast-men.

Photo Source: Islandtimevacationhomes.com

There was a tree, a big wide tree, and its branches and leaves spread fanwise like a broad green umbrella. It stood apart from the other trees, which was as it should be, for this tree was something special. It was one to talk to. There was also the garden with the flowers, shrubs and a pond. A shallow pond, its coping flush with the lawn, with green and yellow tipped ferns hanging over the water. Often the water in the pond was still and clear with slowly swaying tendrils of weed on the mossy bottom, the slimy slush of rotting stems and leaves that had died. Behind the low fence of the garden were the hills. The ever green hills of Java, sloping down to the dark outline of the forest. And behind the fence, there was that tree, the one to talk to. In a whisper, or in a loud voice when nobody else was around. I could say anything to that tree, and it would answer, just in a way as I knew it would. Or it would slip into an embarrassed silence.

Photo Source: Flowtography

It was nothing but a game I had made up, in the tender years of early youth.

All that was a long time ago. I had forgotten about it, and if I hadn't, I would certainly not talk about it with anybody. Until later, much later, the game is played again, and a tree is once more important to me. Very important, for it saved my life.


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