Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beaches of Marina

“Yalla, wake up my love”, his mother said as she gently placed a kiss on his forehead. “You’ll miss the bus if you don’t hurry”.
He slowly turned in his bed. He looked at the time. It was 4:30 am. The bus leaving for Marina Beach Resort was at 5:30. He struggled to get out of bed…how he wished to have a bit more time to sleep! He went to the bathroom as his mother prepared him a cup of tea and some sandwiches. He’d drink his tea now and leave the sandwiches for the bus. He washed his face and dressed quickly. His suitcase was already packed from the night before. His body was still aching as he sat sipping his tea with his mother. He had done a lot of hard work during the past few days and all he dreamed of was a few days of sleep.

“Cheer up my sweetest..” his mother said in a tender voice as she looked at his tired face. “You’ll be at the seaside…the sea wind does wonders for you…you always come back looking great.”
“Yes mother…for sure,” came his blunt reply.
He was ready to go. He gave his mother a big hug and a kiss.
“Take care of yourself my dearest and call me when you get there”, came her concerned voice as he picked up his bag and headed for the door.

He had a long way to go to reach the bus, but he made it just in time. It was already full of young people like himself, some of whom he recognized from previous trips, all heading for the different beach resorts along the North Coast.

He took a seat by the window. He dozed off for a while, dreaming that he was lying on a golden beach with his beloved, holding hands and whispering in each other's ears. How he adored her and longed for them to be married!! Would that day ever come?? He woke up with a start as the bus stopped at the toll station. He looked out of the window and saw rows of cars packed with suitcases, bicycles and filled with happy smiling vacationers all heading for the beaches.

He finally reached his destination. It was already past 8:30 am. He jumped off the bus, greeting on his way all the familiar faces. He met a group of the guys heading for the beach.
“Hey, you’re late”, called out one of them. “You’d better hurry up”.

He ran to his room, quickly undressed and put on his blue overalls and white boots. He picked up his fork and ran for the beach. There was just a handful of holiday makers. Everybody else was still sleeping. He joined the group of men-in-blue and began sweeping the beach. Coke cans, food scraps, tissue paper, empty bottles, candy wrappers, all sorts of trash left behind by vacationers or thrown unto the beach by the sea had to be swept every morning. Everything would be clean by the time the crowds hit the beaches later on in the day. He slowly worked at his job, at moments feeling a strong desire just to lie down and sleep on the soft golden sands. He wished he had rested during his short break, but he had to work on his days off as well. It wasn’t easy making ends meet, let alone putting something aside for the future. He stood for a while under the shade of a wooden umbrella and looked out at the beautiful blue sea stretching out into the horizon. He felt a cool sea breeze gently brushing against his face. It reminded him of his mother’s words and her tender voice. He smiled as he went back to sweeping…and sweeping…the beaches of Marina.

A Lovely Day

She felt the warm rays of the afternoon sun on her body, penetrating her woolen jacket and reaching deep into her bones. What a beautiful sensation it was! She slowly sipped her tea with milk, sweetened with a bit of honey, savoring every drop. It was one of those crisp clear spring days, not too cold and not too warm. She was sitting on the terrace overlooking the garden. She raised her eyes to the sky. Its dark blue color seemed to beckon her to reach out and touch it. In front of her lay the garden rich with colors. A canvass of violet, orange and yellow bougainvillea sprawled over the garden fence. Pink and red geraniums were in full bloom, their leaves a dark bright green. She had to remind the gardener to make cuttings and plant some new pots.

She took a deep breath, taking in the fresh air and the sweet scent of orange blossoms. When had they planted that orange tree?? Oh…that had been so many years ago! Now it stood majestically at the entrance of the garden, like a handsome woman, displaying her beauty every spring and arousing the senses with her deep perfume.

She held the tea cup in both her hands, feeling its warmth running through her body. The exquisite singing of a black bird could be heard from a distance. She closed her eyes and listened to it with reverence, as she had for many years now, awaiting this divine gift of spring, the "song of love" as she had always called it. For her, no music could surpass this enchanting mating song that seemed to usher in the birth of life and love anew.

The sound of laughter came from within the house. It was her grandchildren. They had spent a morning of story telling together. She had never realized how much fantastic stories her imagination could still conjure up until she sat looking into their beaming and eager faces as tale after magic tale flowed from her lips. It made her feel so much alive.

She laid her head back and took a deep breath as the scent of jasmine penetrated her whole being. How sweet life could be!!

"Mother!!" she heard her daughter calling from inside. "You better get in now…it's getting cold. Remember you have to rest…your chemotherapy session is tomorrow."

"Oh…those sessions!!" she cried out loud as her daughter pushed her wheelchair into the house. How she hated them.

"But at least," she thought to herself with a smile, "today had been such a lovely day!"


She swallowed the last drop of tea and put her cup down. She had drunk it slowly hoping he would have come by the time she finished it. He always came home at this time. She went to the kitchen and rinsed the cup out and laid it to dry on the sink. On her way out she put her hand on the pots on the oven. They were still warm. If he came now it would take just a few minutes to re-heat the food. He always came home so hungry! She went back to the living room and turned on the TV, browsing the different channels. Nothing much today…as everyday. He still hadn’t come. She turned off the TV and went to the window and looked out. His car wasn’t there …or maybe he had parked it further up the street and would walk back home. No sign of him yet. She went back in and sat on the sofa. She picked up the crossword puzzle and tried to work on it. She had always been such a wiz at it but now….why did it seem so difficult?! She heard footsteps coming up the stairs. “Oh that must be him!” she thought as she rushed to open the door. She blushed as she saw the upstairs neighbor going up. She quickly closed the door feeling embarrassed. How could she have mistaken his footsteps?? She new their sound by heart as she new everything else about him. She went back to the living room and turned on the radio. She liked the music that played this hour of the day. He loved it too and always listened to it as they had their dinner together. She waited. When would he come? It was starting to get dark now. She felt a cold shiver run through her body and tightened her shawl around her. She rose to her feet and went to turn off the radio. She looked up at the clock… its monotonous ticking throbbing in her head. She felt the familiar heaviness in her heart as the darkness enveloped the living room.

She sat in silence…. as she has sat every night since he left her two years ago……waiting.

Hands of Love

I hold his hands in mine. Despite the visible signs of aging they still maintain their special beauty that I love so much. Their elegant shape, the long, delicate fingers, but most of all the energy of life they have always conveyed. Their sweet scent fills my nostrils as I bring them to my lips and softly kiss them.

As a child, these hands enchanted me. I watched in awe as I saw them bring forth magic tunes from a violin or a piano, or convert a piece of candy wrapping or scraps of paper into a little doll, a bird or flower. I was fascinated by the different shapes these hands took...a flying eagle, a lion’s mouth, an old man, as I sat wide eyed listening to tale after tale… transported from one magic world to another. I was captivated by how they worked on wood, leather, and glass creating endless works of beauty, how they cared and nourished all types of plants transforming our home into a virtual greenhouse. They were hands that seemed to breath life and beauty into all what they touched. And as they aged they never lost their vitality nor their passion to create.

Even as his illness progressed and he lost motion in most of his body, his hands remained alive. They would reach out to touch me as I sat by his bedside, finding my arm and pressing it gently. He could speak no more and hardly see, but his hands spoke many words: I’m still here…don’t worry...I’ve had a great life...not afraid to go…I love you…

I gently let go of his hands and take a last look at them as they rest motionless on his chest. They are lifeless now and wet with my tears. My heart is heavy. I know I will never see them again...those hands of creation…hands of love.