2. The beauty had enticed many people, killer riptides took sacrifices.. so the tale goes
Even the best laid-out plan can be ruined.. by a riptide!
She arrived at the beach around 3 pm. It was late, she knew. Some courtesies must be observed at her aunt’s house, some meals must be eaten first. [Good things always happen late! Aiiyyy!!]
This beach was a beautiful black sand margaja beach. The black margaja was fine but not too fine that it stuck on you. Shimmering black when it got wet gave it an other worldly look. Some people when they say, “beautiful beach”, meant white sand. This beauty was different. Black was beautiful!
On the south side of it were black granite rocks the size of big houses stacked one on top of another but somehow held in place. How far under water said rocks extended she didn’t know.
Above the rocks came a waterfall. As water splattered on to the rocks it created artificial rain-like extensions that some little beachgoers enjoyed instead of going into the open sea. To the contentment of their adult companions.
In some places where the water fell in torrents, it was a nature shower so magnificent! Rainbow rays splashed on the rocks and flew out, one chasing after the other, never looking the same in position and radiance. It complied to the whims of the cascade of water driven by gravity, buffeted by wind as it hit the side of the cliff coming from the ocean.
Depending on time of day this mix of sun, water and wind interplay, If one’s lucky enough to witness made for some breath-taking awesomeness of nature. To bathe in it, to be right in the middle of it you must come along with a child’s wonder in your eyes, to truly appreciate Nature in its splendor indescribable.
Along the sides of these rocks further south side grew mature trees that some people used as natural shade when the sun was at its zenith.
Beachgoers clambered on to these rocks to be at the highest point in their natural showers!
Also to partake in the privacy the rocks offered when changing clothing before leaving. Privacy IF you didn’t happen to bump unto somebody who has the same intent as you!
–but this beach was famous for one thing: IT WAS A KILLER BEACH!
Famous not for its beautiful nature but rather its deadly beauty. First off- the underwater terrain was rather steep from the beach, rather than gradual. It meant that the water got deep pretty fast for some unknowing beach goers. The dry sand area was not wide at all compared to other beaches, nor was it lengthy so that sand would not be in a bottleneck underwater. But it was just that indeed- a bottleneck of a layout which made for deeper water, more ferocious waves. Simply because it had nowhere to go.
The locals added to this notoriety with a folk tale, half-truth half exaggerated fable propagated by busybodies who loved these kinds of hyperbole. As *this date approached the more feverish the tales.. WHO WILL IT CLAIM this time?
The truth part was that it did indeed kill around *this time..*
–the ‘exaggerated’ part of the tale was that ‘the beach claimed its sacrificial life every year around this *time as to feed it to pacify it’ otherwise it’ll turn more vicious and claim more lives..
Well now— there was reason why a fable was defined as such.. 😑
*This time* was around the end of the month of June. This was the time in the year when Catholicism celebrated their Patron Saint John, as the Saint of Water… of safe water travel, or not travel at all over water for fear of an accident.. numerous tales abound.
Observers of this religion at least in this part of the globe observed this day with “fiesta” or feast to the Patron Saint.
To the young people it was a time for dances under the moonlight. The last of social dances of the year. It was a grand social event.
This little village was named after Saint John the Baptist, and celebrated these water observances on this same date.
Either by going to the water as a family outing, or splash it on to others on the streets if one’s not celebrating by the rivers or beach. Sometimes it can get out of hand!!
How would you like to be on your way to the office and got splashed with water? There were times when that water was not sanitary!
The council of governments had to step in to halt this nasty practice!
Well, at least in this little village named after the saint this was what the celebration was about this time when she came here. It was also the reason for the beach party she wasn’t invited to but determined to crash any ways..
*This time* also referred to the part of year when the monsoon season was to start. If Nature came at its regularity as it does- then monsoon starts around the third week in June. Coincidentally around the Feast Day of this Patron Saint.
To anyone who was familiar with weather phenomena around this region, it was a time when depressions formed in the atmosphere above this ocean spawning destructive cyclones. Some of these weather disturbances can develop into cyclones that hit land at 120+miles per hour. This was typical.
As it developed Gail force of 240mph wind speed it was now a monster super typhoon category 5. It will obliterate small villages in low-lying areas.
The combination of high tide and wind-driven cyclone of this magnitude- to say “devastation”, was under-statement.
On this beach people died by drowning because they were careless. Mostly probably with the involvement of some alcohol. It was a merrymaking time after all. But the fable of a ‘sacrificial, life-eating sea’ sounded so… mesmerizing when told exaggeratedly, so be it!
The more, the bigger the hyperbole, the grander the story-telling!
Yet they blamed the sea and tagged it a “killer beach”.
This was not yet the time of turbulent weather condition when she got to the beach. Nevertheless- at three o’clock after noon, high tide was already coming in from the ocean. The wind also started whipping around the cliffs. The sun though was still almost only overhead. There were no clouds so there were plenty of sun light still left in the day. Dusk settled around here at approximately seven at night.
When she strolled to the beach it was deserted!
Where o’ where was the party? There were only two people she could see and they were preparing to leave having taken shower at the falls.
In her mind was a disappointment and sad melancholy at the same time.. seeing this beautiful beach deserted, it was sad! She had not visited in years. It was late in the day, and although the waves were already swelling up they were still manageable to swim in.
Before she came she really wasn’t planning on going into the water. She had no bathing suit prepared. She was still wearing the white long sleeved man’s shirt that she wore to school the Friday before. She was also wearing an uncharacteristic beach attire with it which was a khaki long pair of pants. How can she swim in these?
BUT… SHE WAS ALREADY HERE…
She reasoned out. Still feeling the dejection from the failed party crashing and not ‘seeing’ him, she dared to go in. A voice inside registered a small objection. After all she was by herself. This was a no-no safe-wise. But the objection voice was tiny!!
Prior to coming home for schooling, while away on her adventures she considered herself an emancipated minor. She worked. She did what needed to be done. She lived. She hungered. She looked for a life of her own.. and found out how difficult it was, but to live, one need to keep on her toes.
All these hard feelings dissipated when she let the water glide past her body. That’s why she loved swimming. When swimming like this she didn’t care about anything. She was free. Only the water, and her. Without looking up to mark her position against land, she went on. The water felt warm. It was great. She started kicking and advancing to the ocean leisurely. She had always been a good swimmer.
There was a time when she found herself at a beach party thrown by the Navy men from the USA. This particular beach was inside an American Military base. She got an invitation to this outing. Of all the people in it- no one had taken to swimming yet everyone was drinking. She got bored and headed for the water.
She faintly heard this whistle in the back of her senses. She never minded it. She went on. She had planned to swim to the buoys out bordering the safe swim area with the open water. When she got to the buoys she stood on the yellow rope to rest. The whistling had become frantic, now accompanied by voices. She finally looked toward the beach. A few of the people were frantically waving at her to “come in”. The life guard was jumping up and down with his whistle that was getting louder and persistent…
Well, ok… geezzzz!!! Party poops!!!
This was the scene playing in her mind as she went on.
To a swimmer there were several ways of resting on water so they won’t tire easily. Firstly- relax. Don’t hurry. This was why she loved swimming. Secondly- one may float either vertically, or horizontally depending on your prowess. To float horizontally was easier. One may even swim in this way. A great form of rest while treading water, so to speak.
Finally she looked back at the beach. The rocks which were as big as buildings got tinier. The wind also brought a mild chill to her wet body exposed above water. She was out of the confines of the coastal curve so the wind was cooler. Also that it was more forceful…
If one was to enjoy swimming one should get out further than the shallows. This far out into the sea was better because there were less wave interference on you. The movement of water closer to land was more violent than if you were in the deep.
She decided to swim back. Taking her time otherwise she won’t make it and had to stop some more for rest. One wave slapped over her head surprising her a bit as she recovered her breathing. She went vertical and sized up the current. The wave that had slapped her foretold current conditions so she really did better head back to land.
Far off into the horizon bigger waves begin to roll. “Ok,” she thought. Time to tuck it. She swan a little faster but still in no hurry. Relaxing your body is the best way to go the distance.
Once her foot hit bottom, she started to walk although still in neck deep. Her breaths were a little jagged from the swim as she approached knee-high waters.
A step or two and she was on dry land. She was thinking of what to wear in change for her wet clothing when…
She was back under water again. In the sunlight she saw her feet go perpendicularly vertical to all her sense of bearing. She saw it go up that way!
Inside the wave her derriere-length hair whipped her face painfully. Her arms were flailing wildly. She had no way to control it and was afraid she’d break them so she instinctively crossed her arms hugging her chest.
Her back neck slammed on hard sand. Ugh!!! Almost knocked the air out of her.
All of a sudden it was pitch black! The bubbles blocked out the sun so that she couldn’t even see her arms in front of her..
The sound of roaring she heard was so loud, as if she was under a train running at full speed, hitting all kinds of speed bumps as it went. The sound of pebbles being carried back out by the water as it rolled under towards the ocean was deafening. The roar was a kind of loudness that gave her a slight headache. She almost couldn’t stand it but what to do?
Her first instinct was to swim out of this ferocious conflagration but the tide was so vicious that it did not allow one to swim out. The force of the rolling water kept her inside it. She tumbled like a rag doll at its mercy. There was no way to counteract it or to move out of it.
When she tried to scape the roiling waters in fact she lost her bearing. She thought “up” was in front of her. She started swimming toward that direction. It was in fact the opposite. It was the sand!!
She smacked her nose hard on it. For a flash of a second it scared her to think she might have a bloody nose. She felt sand get into her nose cavity.
“I’LL DIE TODAY.”
At this instant- a thought came to her, “I’LL DIE TODAY.” The calmness of this thought was surprising to her. There was no panic in that thought at all. Just an acceptance in fact.
Then almost instantaneously- a reply came back: “NO, NOT TODAY.”
She slowly pried the grains of sand out of her nose cavity one by one. She thought that if she inhaled it and it got to her lungs she would cough. If she coughed- THAT would be the end of her. She very softly blew half a breath of air out to her nose to clear it. Only she stopped the air at her throat. She didn’t want to expel it out. She thought that she needed to save this air… instead she forced the sand to blow out by the force of strength that was in her. Very, very, very gently, almost just like a shiver.
Having cleared her nose with sand, she softly slowly breathed back the air that was in her throat, back to her chest…
She then re-crossed her arms against and tucked them in place at her chest. She turned her body around so that the sand would be at her back. Doing this now she knew which way was up. She regained her bearing. It was still pitch black. She laid her back on the sand as a marker of bearing and waited for that light.
Then came the thought; “RELAX.” “RELAX.” “RELAX.”
She said it to herself three times, relaxing all her muscles and senses as she uttered each one as if an incantation. So she stayed under water, relaxed in this position…
🌹… continued on #3