I’m communicating again with that part of my self which had been disinherited for a little while and left to feed on the relentless practicality of unintelligible lines of code and soulless ‘lifecycles’, assimilating jargon that only complicated what could have been a simple, austere life. It is corrupted now, of course, and no amount of purging will wash it clean of all that it didn’t want to know: the knowledge has been absorbed and runs deep, but will stay dormant unless called forth in a fit of perversity or pragmatism. For the romance, there is always the swish of the waves and the attraction of swooping seagulls to rely on.
Now I know why writers say that seagulls “wheel overhead”. The birds by the seashore don’t fly; they don’t need to. They inscribe circles low in the sky, borne aloft by the strong sea-breeze, dancing like marionettes suspended by invisible strings, upwards and downwards and sideways. When in the water, they don’t swim: they just perch themselves on any little ripple they choose, and are rocked back and forth by the waves. Funny birds they are, plucking half-eaten sandwiches out of people’s hands and wolfing them down defiantly, but scrupulously clean as well- atleast as far as I know.
As we walk on the pier, my friend asks me to look through the planks of the wooden bridge several feet above the ground. The foamy waters of the Atlantic swirl underneath, and viewed thus through the chinks amidst the much-suffering planks, are endowed with a strange, almost sinister beauty. I’m reminded of Brighton Rock, a story that has lodged itself rather firmly in my head for a while now, and I wonder if there is another Pinkie walking amidst us on the pier, cold and afraid of human warmth. A man brushes past me roughly, breaking my reverie; he calls out impatiently, conveniently unconcerned that I wasn’t quite to blame for the ‘collision’. It takes me a while to shake the unpleasantness out of my head, but the skyline of Brighton stretching into the horizon comes to my rescue.
From a distance, this could be any coastal town in the world: it reminds me of pictures of Bombay. I watch the waves lapping the shore and at the pebbles, one of which sits on my desk. I like souvenirs that don’t come out of a shop. I think I’m falling in love with Brighton, and this is a scary idea. It takes me more than a year to snap out of the aftershock of leaving a place I’ve truly loved, I know from experience. This is the fourth place I’ve lived in this year, and as each of the other three adds its onerous bagful of memories to the existing burden, wanting to be circumspect is but natural. What can you do, though, when a seaside town shows itself off on a glorious, sunny afternoon, a general atmosphere of cheer and warmth pervading its streets, families laughing and showing you that things are still quite right with the world, the intoxication of novelty and dreams realised seeping into every pore?
Succumb. Tomorrow will take care of itself.