We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch- we are going back from whence we came.
— JF Kennedy
It was too calm a beach for my liking. The wind was thin and the waves scarce. There were no high, roaring walls of water, crashing into the sea at a distance and rolling noisily onto the shore. The song of the ocean had been replaced by a soft, yet relentless, murmur. It was like walking into a group of old ladies at a funeral. Hushed voices. The ones that make you wonder if you were welcome to join the undertones or were required to leave without disturbing the solemnity.
I chose to stay however, in hopes of catching the sunset. And it was a beautiful beach nonetheless. The Sultanate has some of the most stunning and secluded beaches that the peninsula has to offer.
The sky was orange, not bright, golden orange, but a dull, retro kind. There was too much dust in the air to actually see that setting sun take it’s final dip, but we got pretty close. Far away, where the skies met the waters, a few big boats scampered for the shore before the lights went out.
Sonny Boy was running about happily, always at a safe distance from the foamy edges of the tiny waves, digging his legs deep into pockets of black, wet sand, and exclaiming now and then when a Big-One approached. At least, for him, they were Big Ones.
As a child, my favorite beach activity was collecting sea shells. I would walk along the coast and pick up as many as my hands or tiny pockets could hold. I would attend to them like treasures and take them home in hopes of marrying them into a necklace. I never actually did it though.
I call out to him.
Me: Come look at this shell I found.
Sonny Boy sprints over, takes a look at the brown and white shell in my hand and smiles politely. I can see he is not as fascinated by it as I was.
Sonny Boy: Look at that wave, Ma!
And off he goes. Kids these days! I am a little disappointed that he does not enjoy the shells. Maybe it’s a girl thing, I wonder. Or maybe he is too young, too naive to fathom the beauty hidden in the little, ordinary things.
Sonny Boy: Ma, they are going home, are they?
Sonny Boy: The waves. Over there, look! Their house in the rocks.
I look up from my camera and follow his outstretched hand. At a distance, the shore had come to an abrupt end where big, black rocks, descended from the hills nearby, tapering towards the sea. Tiny wavelets came gushing silently into pockets of air between the rocks, without turning white. They came, one after the other, as if in a trance, gently knocking on the cave doors that would not be answered, and falling back into the ocean without further ado. It was quite meditative to watch.
Me: Yes, they are going home, aren’t they!
He was delighted at my response.
We spent some more time chasing crabs down the beach. They popped from time to time when the waves receded, scampering hurriedly for a brief distance before the next wave could carry them away. Some disappeared sideways into the white water while others burrowed their way into the safety of the wet sand.
The sun was now no where to be seen. The little orange that was left in the horizon was now rapidly turning black. As we walked away from the ocean, towards the familiarity of tar and concrete beneath our feet, he tugged on my t-shirt. I looked down and saw the twinkle of another question in his baby eyes.
Sonny Boy: Can we come to this beach again once we go back home?
(By home he meant back in India.)
Me: I don’t think so. This is Muscat, here where we are. And home is on the other side of this ocean. We have different beaches over there.
Sonny Boy: No. No. It’s the same beach. We can come back.
Reasoning with a boy his age can get a little too tedious. I chose not to indulge in another Let-me-explain-it-to-you session just then. Moreover, at that moment, I envied his innocence, that made believing in anything that he wanted, possible. I smiled and walked ahead.
Maybe it was knowing too much that had ruined all our happiness. Maybe, if I could unlearn a little, I could take this beach back home with me, along with the shells, crabs and the little wave houses.
Muscat Diaries- Anecdotes from my month-long holiday in Oman.