The lighthouse is still there; so is the beach.
There were two, no, three roads to reach the lone ice cream vendor under the big, tilted umbrella at the edge of the beach. It was fun to run on the gritty pavement, stepping neither on sand nor on tar, racing the red town bus to the other end, where the road curved away from the sea.
Now, I cannot make out where I am. The driver of the auto rickshaw patiently takes all the turns I suggest. Did I live in another country? Was it a dream?
Perhaps, the driver suggests if I could tell him a number, a name or some landmark….
Do I tell him about the gate that little hands would push open most evenings, offering a still-warm egg in return for a few coins that quickly changed into a small meal at the shop near the main street?
Or would it help to describe the papaya tree in the corner, heavy with fruits bearing orange holes left by test-drilling crows and squirrels?
Will he be able to hear the squeak of the pulley that used to help draw water from the village well, but now followed me at the end of a string around the house?
The driver has had enough. We start back to the houseboat where the rest of the tourists are waiting for me to rejoin them.
Tourist! On the same road where I used walk long and slow to my school. With so many bridges crossing the canal, it must have looked like a ladder from way up.
I would always stop by the coir warehouse.
It was fun to watch huge bales of coir slipping silently down twin rails to a waiting boat. When the boat was full, the sleeping man on the boat would come to life. He would pick up the long bamboo, push it deep into the water and walk to the other end of the long curve of the boat, pushing against the bamboo all the way. Miraculously, the boat would start moving gently.
I can still hear the silence.
Except for that afternoon when the rapid-fire crackers went off. I looked back in alarm. Just two huge bulls, testing their strength, their massive heads pushing against each other. The hooves of the loser were trying to find a foothold on the stones embedded on the road. I moved aside quickly as the bulls thundered by, winner in chase.
Did time move in slow motion then, waiting for you to take in the sights and sounds of life?
I am back among my fellow tourists. As they eagerly plan our next activity, I am happy I did not find my house. How could I have, when I never lost it?