They came on to the beach with a rustle, broke up into foam and slowly sucked up the imperfections to leave the slate clean. Relentlessly it went on. There must be a message here he thought only he had not got it yet, eventually he would. Resting his head on the crook of his arm, he watched the sun go down the horizon.
This was a sabbatical that he had taken from his work back in the stock exchange in the square mile at London. He had grown rather fed up with the number crunching on the terminals of the last few years. He had made a lot of money but something was missing in his life. At 31 years of age, staying away from his parents, with no permanent liaison he had materially arrived. But then the mind and heart sought something more and he did not know what it was. It was then that he had applied for the sabbatical for a year and set out with no particular agenda. He had just his backpack in which he threw in some clothes, his music that he carried on cassettes and his trusted Sony-Walkman/Radio a mix of traveler’s cheques of HSBC, Credit Cards and some cash. On arriving at the airport he had checked out the formalities and boarded the British Airways flight to Mumbai, India. The bustle of that city and the crush of people was not his idea of a relaxation. After a quick lunch he had taken a bus for Goa and here he was after two days lying on the sands of Anjuna.
Sub-consciously he had taken the same route his father had taken in the late sixties when he had been a part of the world roaming Hippie movement. His father Charles Illingworth Esq. was a banker of the old school and looking at him today one would never even have associated him with such an adventurous past. Accidentally, Jonathan had stumbled upon some photographs in the loft when he was visiting the countryside house at Devon when his family was on a holiday in Egypt. The stiff upper lipped Pater was wearing the freewheeling attire of a beatnik. He not only was carrying it with aplomb but the beaded necklace, the bandana with a burnt out cigarillo in his mouth, a guitar slung across his back he looked dashing and blissfully happy. His smile with the sun shining down created the impression of a man who has found the truth. Rifling through the box he came across a few of his mother too and apparently though they were county neighbors had met for the first time in Goa and cupid had struck. This side was never revealed to him and Doris as they grew up and went to all the right schools. He had followed his father in the business of money making, only he made it faster on the stock exchange, and had his father’s bank take care of it for safekeeping and growth. The pile was growing. Amongst the Long Play records of Handel and Rachmaninoff symphonies were also the Beatles and the American poet Bob Dylan. Now he knew the reason for the gleam in the pater’s eyes when he listened to some Rock and Roll sneakily. The dude had been there and done it in his time.
Goa and especially Anjuna was a holiday maker’s paradise. It was as if time stood still in this part of India .The hustle and bustle had left it fairly untouched though construction happened at a rapid place elsewhere. Two days on reaching Goa he had called back home to inform his parents where he was and his mom had picked up. Jon, darling take care and do visit Anjuna its paradise. It’s where I met Charlie. There are no hippies in the world now but what Ginsberg began with his poetry against systemic & social norms had developed into an angst against conformity finding expression largely in the fields of literature, arts like music and theatre and other performing arts.Permissiveness into social taboos like free sex and usage of chemical boosters like Cannabis, LSD was the portion which turned Jonathan off. Today he just rolled over onto the blanket and stared into the dimming sky watching the stars, a light breeze was blowing.
A round stone half hidden peeking out almost looked like a cannonball fired and forgotten from a battle in the past. His thoughts flew across geography and time. He felt free for the first time in his life. There was no phone to connect him anywhere unless he called and he did not wish too. The shack he had rented from Blaze Machado a fat local who perpetually reeked of feni ( a local cashew liquor) was quite basic yet comfortable. He could hear Blaze shout out to him as he lay down, Jon Patrao come here, the fish has arrived. Blaze had a barbecue on which he roasted , braised, fried and cooked a sterling variety of meats and seafood. The Beer was chill and sweating as he popped the cap and put it before him and he took a long swig. The smoky flavor from the fire blinking on the darkening sands added the zing to the bubbles as he cooled down.
The tailed shell tiger prawns roasted and seasoned with garlic butter were simply divine. As he crunched on one, the butter dribbled from the side of his mouth. Blaze had peppered it so that his eyes watered but it was delicious. "Today’s special is Kingfish curry and rice… we will make you a Goan yet Patrao said Blaze with a booming confidence". "Jolly Good" he mumbled as he could not get enough of those prawns that Blaze kept dumping on his plate. Soon there was a small mountain of the crunchy shell tails and he had downed two Beers and felt sated.
As he bent to take the cigarettes from his back pack lighting one coming up, he heard an accent that was pure prep school Upper London. She was standing next to his table and asking him "Can I have a light too?" "Of course, Oh Sure" and he held his WWII Zippo and could see the bluest eyes in a fair freckled face. The hair was cut short almost boyish and she was wearing a singlet and shorts, the uniform of beach bums in Goa. She inhaled as the tip glowed and said a thank you, and held out a hand I am Peggy Ashton-Smythe and you sound from back home, British? She was tall, limber but curvy and did not hurt the eye. He got up and asked whether she would like to join him as he would start eating in just a while and didn’t like eating alone. She nodded and plopped into the plastic chair next to his and propped up her legs with her chin settled on her knees. So cool to meet an Englishman in this land, finally an accent that shall not grate across my ears she said. Don’t you find the Goan men a bit too loud and lazy? The women here do all the work and these buggers just sit and tipple their feni and count the cash. He raised an eyebrow as the word Bugger had come with just enough comical vitriol that can only be British upper class. Old army connections probably he thought.
So you don’t like India? He asked. "Oh no no.. Whatever gave you that impression, I can be a citizen here, and my folks are Indophiles. My Grand Dad was the Aide De Camp of Lord Mountbatten and didn’t leave India. My father was born in Mussorie and me in Westminster. When I feel the need to getaway I come here. No one to answer to no worries on which dresses to wear, which jewelry and accessories would go well and were repeated from the last party and no performance on the stage all the time. This is re-charge time." " Oh are you on stage?" "No am a genteel farming stock, only that we own half of the county graze lands and hate being the neighbor to Porky Percy who is waiting to slip a ring on this finger, said she with a flourish wriggling her ring finger." He couldn’t hold his laugh and uproariously let loose and choked on the smoke and started coughing and laughing with tears running down. Boy o Boy was she succinct in her description and crisply had brought him up to date on her life in quite a wicked manner. Leaping across she slapped him on the back and her cool firm hand stroking there did feel nice.
What about you Jon, you lost something? "Yeah Myself " said he, "in the hustle and bustle of wearing a suit and making money. Just ran away". Blaze came across and brought with him two more beers and walked off turning and yelling ten minutes the fish curry will be ready and you missy shall eat it too. Peggy rolled her eyes at him, of course Blaze dear she sweetly said and Blaze smiled broadly back missing it altogether. They just smoked and sipped in silence after that. She looked at him curiously once or twice but didn’t seem to bother him. He just brought out from the knapsack, his walkman that had a speaker attached and just depressed the play button. The raspy voice of Bob Dylan came through with his trademark harmonica
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, n how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, n how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before theyre forever banned?
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, n how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, n how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind, The answer is blowin in the wind.
How many years can a mountain exist
Before its washed to the sea?
Yes, n how many years can some people exist
Before theyre allowed to be free?
Yes, n how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,The answer is blowin in the wind.
I love that song she mumbled once. Jon you are deep and I simply adored the way you picked the right song for my moment. We must see Goa together while you are here, your first time? He nodded and she said confidently, then we shall make it memorable for a lifetime.
Blaze came with his kingfish curry that was steaming and put two plates before them and ladled a lot of rice on it. Plonked a huge fillet of fish on it and poured the tangy curry on it. "Now eat me sweet English people, the food of Goa raises no questions and anyway, the answers blowin in the wind" laughing loudly at his own witticism he ambled off. The curry and the fish under the stars on a beach with a gamin saucy lady for company, suddenly he was glad he had chosen to walk out of the humdrum life just when he did.
Chewing methodically and enjoying the superbly succulent fish they talked a lot comfortably and as they retired to meet the next day to start their sightseeing of Goa together he noticed the footprints; two sets coming in from a distant arc and proceeding parallel. A wave might wipe this slate clean too thought he. However for a tiny slice of life, they would go some distance together; a slice like the spicy fish fillet which had a promise to be memorable. His ticker gave a wee little flutter as a sense of Déjà vu settled over him; looking at the footsteps across the sands of time. .............................................................. footprints contd II