Do you recognize me? Yes, your guess is right. I am your younger self in Calcutta, India.
I still remember when your school friend Indrani Banerjee invited you to her country house in a remote village beside the sea shore. You were just 15 years old. The invite came as a thrilling surprise to you and your family. At first you felt a bit shy and were anxious about what would happen on such a holiday, but when your parents encouraged you to respond to the invitation in a positive way you became very excited. That was your first invitation to join your friends to their village house for a fortnight in the month of June 1981. The letter came from your friend’s parents to you and your parents. The invite was well-written in the structure of a poem. That made you all so happy.
Hope you are in full spirit.
As promised to you and Indrani
We invite you to visit our friend, a Sea,
The Bay of Bengal.
You will experience the blue-green water,
The sea waves will touch your soul
You will remain immersed in the waterscape.
Breaking waves will ripple up and down your spines
Still grounded you would feel light,
Your sense of self will become completely fluid,
And refreshed by the fried sea fishes and fish stew.
Yes, Nandini you guessed rightly
Our village is just beside the sea
The sea hums,
The gentle waves swish and swash
Nights are different with more vigorous waves
With powerful rhythmic pulses.
Hope to see you and all your other friends there.
Uncle and Aunt.
Nandini, you were feeling so wonderful. You were expecting something very new to explore. To you, the sea waves in such a big water body were very unique. Your nervousness to face the Bay of Bengal, Orissa, India changed into a determination that you would have to conquer the fear and convert it into a big adventure.
Your parents were so empathetic to your nervousness. They were trying to make you aware that you should regulate your anxious nervous system and your body shifted from thinking mode to feeling mode.
You went to join the other friends on that day to catch the morning bus arranged by your friend’s parents. The morning was misty. The bus driver was facing difficulty discerning the path through the fog. Ultimately, you arrived safely. You could hear the deep sound of the sea waves and smell the sea weeds. You couldn’t keep your cool. All the youngsters ran to sea. The jellyfish were lying on the beach. You started to collect sea-shells and discovered a huge conch-shell. All of you changed into swimming costumes and got immersed in the blue multi-sensory experiences. Calmness spread over your bodies bringing in a meditative realm. You people dropped more fully into your bodies, minds, and souls. This is the beginning of the real adventure which you never had in your day-to-day lives.
Your adventure became a way to celebrate your indigenous understanding that you were part of nature. Your urban self had always taught you that signs of nature in your life were silly and sentimental. You never thought that there were signatures which could connect you to a great adventure of escape, imagination and dreams. You not only greeted all your friends but greeted the sea water as well, ‘Hello my new wave, how are you? May I have your permission to delve deeper inside you?’
You and friends anointed yourselves with the salty water asking for the sea’s blessing and protection, noticing its mood, textures and tones before plunging in. You, your friends and your friend’s family all pledged to carry out the adventure with pure intention, care, and respect so that you noticed to read the sea waves with all your attention. Could you hear what the sea was communicating?
Your friend’s parents introduced you all to the place: to the spirits of the water and surrounding forests, as their relatives, and neighbours. You were overwhelmed after learning that healing your senses by the presence of nature is possible. As young adults, you formulated your adventure in an extraordinary way. You became committed to nature to have mutual protection. Nature was not always somewhere you went into; it was not anthropocentric, it had its flora and fauna, its own kingdom with its own rules in harmony with our altruistic adventures. Nature was not always silent. It could get angry if you sculpted its forest into perfect woods and tried to reign over it. Instead, you ventured on the concepts of discovering water, and its aliveness. You swam deeply and attached yourselves to the fingerprints of the water and discovered the biodiversity inside the water with colourful animals, plants, and the changes of colours of the water. You loved the experience of dancing with the sea waves and its living world. Botanist parents of your friend devoted the whole time towards linking you to nature to create your lovely adventure.
Fortunately, you were not in a hurry. Indrani’s parents took you to the distant islands, where you stayed at their private property beside the sea. A new adventure evolved inside you. You thought to experiment with the concept of water as your protector and guardian angel and in turn you were supposed to take care of the sea and the mountains. You walked, and traversed the local ecosystem to know them better and to listen to them. They whispered to you, ‘Hello babies, you are very wise to take care of us and brought back life to us. Tell us how we can reward you.’ You whispered back, ‘Hello sea-waves, please give our blue planet a few more moons so that it keeps its health and live beyond unhealthy environmental changes.’