It was a beautiful sunny morning; of the kind when summer is too intoxicated with reluctance, to let go of the last finger from winter’s hand. The time of the year people so fondly call spring, and rightly so, justified by the buoyancy it brings to people’s heart. The time of the year when the Sanyal family went for their annual sojourn at their Ajoynagar beach house. The gravity of this trip could be delineated by the fact that Mr. Raghuveer Sanyal didn’t even carry his phone along; the time of the year when the husband and wife start knowing each other afresh; the time of the year when little Om and Shriya could build their sand castles together.
The sight before him, gave the Sun a reason for his existence and his content smile was mirrored in his warmth. Om, the excited little boy of eleven, trying to echo the sound of receding waves through his semi-whistles, dangling by his side a bucket with a small gardening shovel, hopped and skipped towards the perfect spot. He was closely followed by Shriya in slow thought laden steps. Such figures brewed in her head that would tempt the knights to exchange their real ones for these. The lessons from her father on building sand castles were her bible. From mixing the sand with water in the correct proportion, to the should-be-width of the mote, to the trick of building strong drawbridges; she knew it all. Her mission today was to teach her two years younger brother the tricks of the trade.
Om wanted to impress his sister with his ability to do hard work, a boy that he was. He quickly followed her instructions to create a large pile of sand and dug holes in it to pour water. He watched every move of her with rapt attention as she carved out the perfectly circular base with the shovel, levelled the surface and started digging out a well out of the whole structure. Her hands- adept, her skills- sharp, her words- Strong.
“You have to be careful about the thickness of the castle wall. It cannot be made thicker or thinner than what I have made here”. Om was trying hard to maintain the uniformity but in the eyes of Shriya, he wasn’t doing it the perfect way. “How can you be such a dumbo as to be unable to tell the difference between this part and that?!”
Om tried harder but in vain. He just didn’t seem to be getting it right. Exasperated, Shriya took the shovel from him and completed building the wall on her own. Om looked apologetically at the sight of his sister fixing his mess. “Please give me one more chance Didi”, he pleaded. Shriya gave him a stern look and said, “OK but listen to my instructions carefully first.”
As the two sibs dug out the mote and built the corner towers together, another bunch of local urchins played football nearby. All dressed in vests and shorts stained with prolonged periods of being unwashed. Consumed by the want of proving their superiority, they freely used their skills and strength to nudge ahead. Profanities flew thick and fast as did the poorly patched up football amongst feet. Sanga was the biggest of the lot, intimidating all, in terms of mannerism more than size. He was the perfect picture of a rude rustic rascal. Currently he was berating Anand who had only meekly protested that the last goal that Sanga did came from his hand. All protests dwindled the moment Sanga opened his mouth. Well, many people don’t need the interference of god in such matters.
Meanwhile here, Om’s patience had been rapidly been waning off as he had had another round of chidings from his sister when he had bent his elbow too much while sticking sea shells on to the towers (to denote windows) and had broken a section of the fort walls. He quietly stood aside with a pained face. Om was upset that he let her down but he was angrier because she was so impatient with her. He decided to go on a strike, an active one; pretending not to have heard her when she asked her to fetch some water; stomping his feet while walking, scattering sand in the direction of the castle. It was sweet revenge for Om seeing Shriya seethe in anger. He was so engrossed savoring the taste of his victory that he didn’t realize when the blow landed on his chest; it was only after he felt the roughness of sand on his elbows that he started noticing more of those coming. It took him but a moment to shift sides and return the favor. The shouting and the wrestling was the fun he was intending to have all the while. But Shriya was terribly enraged and she walked away as did the grin on his face.
The tall coconut trees lining the houses by the shore were like the sages, old and wise, observant. A stoic calmness, unaffected by the events around, watching, probably philosophizing the meaninglessness of gravity and the meaningfulness of triviality. But perhaps it wasn’t fun enough. So, how did they think of making it more interesting??…
Sanga took a long shot; the goalie didn’t even attempt to stop the ball, which dribbled its way across the two worlds and landed right on the drawbridge of the castle. The castle which looked majestic enough to bring in a real estate agent and cut a deal, now lay in ruins. While Om might have wanted to do the same just a while ago, to get his sisters attention or just for the fun of it, he now plunged himself on the first boy who was coming to get the ball- Sanga. Thus ensued a fierce dual between two determined souls. While one was out to seek vengeance for the wrong he himself and the guy who shot the ball had done to his sister; the other had his friends watching, he had a point to prove.
As the men fought to preserve their honor, a little girl eagerly waited for his brother to come and assuage her ire. A few long moments passed and yet he didn’t. Rage turned into fury and she turned back to teach him a real lesson.
However, the sight she witnessed broke her heart. Of course the castle didn’t matter anymore. It was the thought of his brother fighting out for her. It was hard to tell where the blows landed or from who but some voices were heard, “How dare you destroy my Didi’s castle?” That one just broke all hell.
“Leave him you scoundrel or I will give you the beating of your life.” Everything froze. Sanga was not much used to threats from kids his age, least of it from a girl. He let go of the boy, lifted himself off the ground, carrying an annoyed and annoying smirk all the while and showered her with his choicest set of abuses. The problem was, Shriya wasn’t a girl to be trifled with. The next thing Sanga knew was his hair getting grappled and nails tearing off his ears. His reputation, his everything, was dangerously at stake. He could feel the eyes behind him, staring amusedly. He grabbed her hands and was thinking of a way to hurt her when he saw Om duck and felt something slide and the amused chuckles turned into a roar of laughter. Shriya couldn’t figure out much until she saw her brother’s merry face looking at Sanga’s shorts lying by his heels. Sanga’s baffled thoughts had given all ample time to relish the show. As he picked those up and ran as fast as he could, he could still hear their laughter getting louder.
To some, it was the end of tyranny; to some, it was the joy of victory, togetherness, overcoming of contention; as they walked back home, shoulder to shoulder, giggling all the way. As the winds blew, even the sages found a rhythm to sway to, the trunk linings almost seemed a wide grin..