The paper was crumbling, in the journal I had kept in my teens. The collection of photos was damaged. But they were special and had survived among my treasured possessions despite many home moves across countries.
The memories of the summers in Hikkaduwa can be only rebooted and read from a forgotten hard drive — of sea baths, walks early morning with the high tide washed silky soft sand oozing through your toes; long chats sitting on catamarans; fishing in rock pools in the burning hot sun; plopping and killing the deadly jelly fish on the sand with sticks; walking at low tide hanging on to cousins to the big reef; watching at sunset the fishermen pushing their boats out to sea; cricket in the back garden and even doing geometry on the beach.
Then there were the long arguments and discussions on every topic –politics, religion, arranged marriages, and the voicing of doubts about what the future had in store for us — would we be happy, have enough money to travel; would we be rich enough to have shoes to match the dresses; would we marry out of caste and religion, — the list went on. Accompanying us gyrating Elvis crooned Love me tender, It’s now or never; we wrote love letters in the sand with Pat Boone, and star gazed trying as Perry Como did to catch a falling star. We loved itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini – but bikinis were strictly taboo in the Kirtisinghe clan—room was made for the single piece swimsuits by the English ladies who married uncles, but jeans and shorts were out. We’d sit on coconut tree trunks that had fallen across the beach as if in worship to the mighty sea and dream… about love and careers, marriage and children … Scrawled across the journal in my ungainly handwriting was the poem. I hadn’t noted the author’s name, but I still remember coming across it — one summer at Hikkaduwa.
Then it was always summer, so it seemed,
As each day slipped to night
Softly the grasses stirred as if they dreamed,
And such a light
Lay in the noonday hour
As never was before
And will be nevermore:
And love was sweeter then, a flower
But now unfolding, holding
All the promise in its cup:
Then was the heart aware of every door
That opened on to beauty, where
Uncounted bluebirds soared upon the air:
That was the time when life was one long song
And we the singers, then…
They were the years when
We and the world were young.
This is my 110 blog post, posted on 11.11.11 @ 11.11 pm.