I could hear the roar of the waves crashing against the beach. Or was it the blood in my ears? Two thoughts crossed my mind just then. Run!
Run as far as possible from the yawning expanse of endless water opening up just ahead, just a little further through the little sandy path, past the coconut groves and patchy grass work, and murky brown mounds of what, sea weed? I couldn’t know it then.
Run and embrace the glorious spread of jade blue sea, roll in the creamy white sand, lean on the majestic coconuts, walk through it all and dive into the endless playground of water, sand and sun. I had just found the beach.
I felt faint, breathless, my 8 year old mind found it all too much to take and for a moment, the world went a little dark. But then the precocious little imp, knowing no fear, bounding with energy, mad for adventure, she reared her head up. It was all mum could do to slow me down as I tore off my clothes and skipped right into the ocean.
I found it easy to swim in the ocean, there was so much more freedom than in the claustrophobic little swimming pool we stopped by at once or twice at The Club. The club was that place in Nairobi where my mother dared take me and my brothers occasionally. That’s where I learnt how to swim. Basically by having my brother throw me into the deep end and then watch me panic, calm down, panic again and swim for my life. The pool was claustrophobic, not me. I learnt how to swim. And I did better in the great wide ocean.
I loved the beach. After I’d swam; content to play just by myself, rolling with the waves, swimming with the current, opening my eyes under water to see the little critters that loves salty sea, then I discovered beach soccer.
I was little, but the big boys let me kick the ball, once, twice maybe. I knew I had to come back. For the jade, and the sand, and the tough orange ball the boys kicked in the tough to negotiate sand.
Some say that the deep sea is more awesome, powerful, holding life, mountains, valleys, caves, gravity and all the forces of nature that demand respect for her.
But I had a thing for the beach; sand, trees, crag and crag life, where it met with the powerful jade. He became my friend. The beach; he whispered to me, almost as loud as the wind against the palm fronds.
The beach was my comfort. I respected him. That ability he has to let the sea wash over him without panicking. And then to let go of the water when the moon calls it away at low tide. The water, it felt cool in my toes when I needed it to, and warm on my back when I needed soothing. Amazing nature, gentle, and yet fierce and ruthless when it has to be.
He laughed with me, when I watched people fall in love with each other on the beach. Only he and I could tell that it was more his mystic power than anything else that brought them together, suddenly interested in each other’s eyes, lips and bodies inexplicably drawn close even as the sun turned the corner to shine on the other side of the world.
I was touched by that mist myself. And later, when the waves crashed on the rocky edges of the beach, he whispered and told me, it would be back some day, that mist. And I’d welcome it, again.
I didn’t understand, well, maybe I do now, just a little. But the bright city lights know how to whisper as well. Only the City is hardly my friend, just someone I meet once or twice. She doesn’t really talk to me, at least she doesn’t tell the truth. Not to me.
But then, everything looks good in retrospect. So maybe my eyes are only 8 years old when I try to remember The Beach.