Rosalyn D'mello: Of beaches and best friends

Jan 12, 2018, 06:16 IST | Rosalyn D'Mello

If only those asking me when I'm getting married knew how rich my life is, how peopled it is by friends who lift me up and hold me close

I have no time for loneliness, or despair. Only to stock up on grace! Pic/Thinkstock
I have no time for loneliness, or despair. Only to stock up on grace! Pic/Thinkstock

And beaches are great for pondering," my best friend Mona said to me, conveying what her Tauji had said to her over the phone. It was such an obvious thing to say, and yet, her timing for its delivery was so apt, given that we were walking towards the waters of Agonda, a beach that, thanks to it being a habitat for Olive Ridley turtles, remains an eco-tourist bastion.

As we swam, we both pondered. When I asked her about the subject of her rumination half an hour later, while we were still basking in the glorious thrill of soft, gentle waves lapping over our bodies, she said she was wondering about what we should have for "high tea". After we'd dried off, we settled on an avocado sandwich, crispy calamari and a hot pot of French press coffee. It had been the perfect day, and I was so grateful that I could begin 2018 with this precious time with her, considering how frequently we both travel, and how rarely we get a chance to meet, even though we claim the same city as our base. As we were setting out to get to Agonda from Navelim, where I live, I hugged her and told her how wonderful it had been to have her with me in Goa during my sister's wedding. "It's so easy to be with you," I said. "It's because we lift each other up," she replied.

What an underrated privilege to have friends in your corner with whom you can boast such a claim, because to lift each other up consistently implies an act of daily grace. To not be jealous of the other's successes, instead to revel in a happiness that is in fact second-hand, but feels so personal, to take great joy in a beloved's triumph, and also, simultaneously, partake in their pain, as if it were something you, too, could feel, not out of sympathy, but genuine empathy. To listen to your friend as if her issues concerned you in equal measure, all of this has embodied for me the crux of any meaningful friendship.

Wednesday night, Facebook reminded me of a momentous friendversary, with my darling Partho, accounting our online engagement to 10 years, even though it has been at least 16 years since I've known him, even though our relationship has survived trans-continental distances. "I would say the connection is mystical, but I'm shying away from such terms at the moment," Partho said to me over WhatsApp. "Because things don't have to be intense and elevated and extraordinary. I think the most extraordinary things that have the most intricate and ordinary human actions, decisions and feelings behind them are among the most valuable." I was so humbled by his dependably sagacious message, all I could send back as a reply was an emoji of a smiley face with a halo atop its fluffy yellow forehead.

Mona left on Tuesday evening. I returned to Agonda on Wednesday afternoon, to spend two nights with my newly wedded sister and brother-in-law. I woke up with the sea stretched out before me. It was 8 am, but the mist made it seem like the sun had yet to rise. I took my time with breakfast. Then, I returned to my little cottage to send this dispatch. My little bluetooth speaker is turned towards me, and I'm feasting on the melancholic notes of Fado, typically Portuguese music that resonates strongly with my ancestral Goan soul. I'm sipping on my glass of Maquintosh leftover from last night's indulgence. The air is crisp, the sky lightly sunny and the waters blue-green. I'm missing Mona, and how she marvelled in disbelief when I screamed out at her while we were in the water-"Look, Dolphins!" I said.

They were barely 300 meters away from us, and I could see their tails flipping in the water. I spotted one baby dolphin as it twirled in the air. At first, I thought I was hallucinating. But I was completely sober. It was 4 pm, the light was clear enough for reality to go unquestioned. I pointed to her the direction in which I had been looking, hoping she might catch a glimpse too. But she didn't. "I believe you, Rosa, can I swim now?" She said. I was satisfied that she took me at my word, without having born witness herself.

If I had a gold coin for each time a relative asked me at my sister's wedding when I'd get hitched, I'd be rich enough to afford a property by the River Sal, as previously dreamed. It took my sister's wedding for me to realise the premium Goans (and Indians, too) place on marriage. I tried to seem amused by the question.

"You'll be the first to know," I said to many. If only they knew how rich my life is, how peopled it is by friends who lift me up and hold me close, how in the gaps between all my wanderings I experience mystical moments where I feel so beloved of the earth and the sky. I have no time for loneliness, or despair. Only to stock up on grace!

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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