The waters of the Ganges lapped at the edge of Varanasi city’s western bank. Fires rose on the burnt ground, the flames reflected in the river like the rays of the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh, cloth and wood chocked the air making the mixed spice fragrances of the markets seem lost in the past.
From the distant boat, I watch men bring my relative’s body down to wash in the river. I wasn’t allowed to go because it was believed women make the event more sorrowful but I had want to see this ancient tradition.
Querencia; a place from which ones strength is drawn, where on feels at home, the place where you are your most authentic self.
The sea called to me. It flowed through my blood via generations of fishermen and sailors. The sounds of the waves, the salty air made me feel calm and reassured. I could draw strength from the sea, from the knowledge it was ever changing yet stayed familiar.
On stormy days, I would brave a walk on the sandstorm beach and watch the wind and rain whipping the high waves. I would shout into the storm, letting all my angry out.
On calm days, I would take my boat out and just drift. Feeling at home and most like myself. I could be whoever I wanted to be out on the waves but most of the time I could just be me, without judgement, without a care.
The days and nights had become one long stretch of nothing. It seemed there was only the sea and the sky left, the rest of the world has just gone. Dad and son sat in the tiny dingy, thinking, sleeping, daydreaming, hallucinating, hoping and praying to be saved. The sinking of the fishing boat haunted them but they were far away from that now and everything else. Large waves rocked the boat, the sky grew black, another storm was coming and this time they might not survive.
They changed the timetable of the ferry for the summer and forgot to update everything. Cars were queuing for miles, people double checking their watches then staring around confused. The complaints were flooding in like storm waves, so the ferry company had no choice but to put the timetable back again.
Finally, they had got Mrs Willoby out of the old peoples’ home. Supporting her, the careers walked her onto the awaiting boat. The crew were silent, nerves building. They didn’t like being here, an eerie deadness hung about the empty island.
Once the hundred year old lady was seated, Mrs Willoby smiled and peered into her handbag. Nestled in a tissue was a throbbing green stone. Space contamination the government said, but she had never believed them. It was just a pretty stone.
The boat took off at high speed, leaving the condemned land but sealing the fate of another.
The sky looked angry as the storm rolled in. I watched the clouds from my fishing boat and decided to return to the harbour. The choppy sea and pouring rain slowed me down but I made it back as the first rumble of thunder echoed.
I hurried from my boat on to the wooden dock and tied her up. Looking back, I saw a fork of lighting striking the top of a large wave. Flickers of electric current rode the water, zinging their way to shore. I got out of there, dashing for the shelter of home.
As I waited for the lock to fill up so we could get the narrow boat down the canal, I noticed the strange trees and house behind them. I wondered what kind of trees they were, for I’d never seen just a bare trunk then a puff of green leaves like that before. The house must be a rich person’s home.
I shook my head, that kind of living wasn’t for me, I needed the flow of water, the experience of the elements, the escapism from this technology driven world.
We were in the safest place we could be as the full moon rose and the howling began. I felt a shiver run up my back which had nothing to do with the chilly autumn night air. The sea waves gently rocked the boat as if trying to calm me. I looked at my family, who were fitfully sleeping together down in the hold and I felt the urge to protect them growing. We were the last people in the world not to be cursed and I had to make sure it stayed that way.