Father Rebello would often tell us how the waves caressed the beach behind his house at Calangute, Goa. How he collected seashells, dipped in the saline waters, rolled on the silvery sand and sun-bathed.
He had promised to take me to his beachfront home. That was before malaria took him to the cemetery behind our house at Mawlynnong in India’s Meghalaya state. Friends said I cried the most; I had a reason to – my ticket to the sea lay buried.
I, son of a poor farmer, was 16 then. I had grown up on grandfather’s anecdotes – about how his ancestors trekked miles to the Bay of Bengal and returned with cowries and salt. But grandpa wasn’t as vivid as Father Rebello.
Partition in 1947 put paid to grandpa’s desire to retrace his ancestors’ footsteps. The best he could do was gaze at the adjoining plains of Bangladesh from our backyard 500 feet above. “I will see the sea for you,” I had promised him.
I kept that promise on my 90th birthday today, the 21st of December 2065. I saw the sea submerging the broomstick plants on our farmland close to the international border 300 feet down the hill.
But why am I shivering, not sweating? And why’s the seawater turning to ice? Has Global Freezing set in, as Father Rebello had warned?
(This was one of the stories selected in Journeys, a book of short stories and poems from around the world by Sampad, South Asian Arts)