Friday, September 13, 2013

Haroon Zaidi: “Even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to the sea. “

(Side note: Today, technically yesterday we visited the Hopkins Marine station, this was a quote on a bench in memory Aileen E. Haderlie, and if memory serves me correct it is taken from a Swinburne poem)

This is to the man who was once a boy:

The weather was beautiful and the boy felt there was a sense of exuberance to it.  It’d been ages since he’d been to the beach, the last time had been when he was a child.  His mother had not let him near the ocean, because she was afraid, with motherly fears, that he would drown, catch pneumonia, get stung by a jellyfish, or suffer some other bizarre and unlikely fate.
Excited the boy makes his way to the beach head, quickly tossing of his shoes and socks, half running half hopping as shards of pottery, shells, and the piece of errant glass pricks his foot.  Reaching the edge of the shore he quickly stops and starts to take it all in.   A bit more subdued now, his hair dances in the wind as he quietly skips his rocks.  For a while things are okay, and the only sound that can be heard is the call of the ocean or the screech of birds.  Maybe the boy was careless or maybe because he had unconsciously wanted it to happen, before he knows it the tide has risen and soaked his pants, he hastily makes his retreat, before rolling up the cuffs.  He once again runs into the ocean, only for the water level to rise again and to force him to back away again, it seems like it’s almost toying with him.

With each new wave, new shells and pieces of pottery are brought in, hardly the treasures of one’s imagination, and although too old the boy or more accurately the man still chases the ocean’s waves, in order to pick up the shells.   This happens several times before the sea finally seems to reach, at least to his inexperienced eyes, its highpoint.  Tired he sits down on a rock, but as I said he was inexperienced and the sea comes rushing in to dowse him.

Wet and tired, finally having had enough with the sea, the man makes his way up to the main path and lies down closing his eyes.   The dull warmth from the sun soon washes over him, the ocean roars and there is an itch in his foot due to his having sand in his, yet he can’t help, but find himself drifting off to sleep.  The sunlight filtering through his eyelids makes it a difficult task to stay awake.

He tries to concentrate to stay awake to focus on images in his mind; yet his lids keep on closing as the bright light of the sun shines washes the images away.  Backlighting them, making them fade, leaving only a red blur.  Nothing can seem to remain in focus and slowly he falls asleep, the man’s last thought, before drifting away, is that maybe these little moments, these seemingly inconsequential experiences is what life is made up of, what makes life worth living.

As the man drifts off, somewhere an ocean roars and a bench reads: even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to the sea.

Haroon Zaidi

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