Summers in Goa are particularly humid. We were fortunate enough to be living near the beach. Tourist rush went downhill during this season, and it was completely understandable why. But some wanderlust fanatics still visited during months of April to June and I always thought, “What a bunch of idiots!” But even in this scorching heat, sunsets are a delight here. At that time, the beach was always packed with young, passionate lovers kissing and holding hands, and groups of friends involved in the daily acts of vandalism. Sometimes, I was jealous of them, sometimes I couldn’t care less. I never had a lot of friends. In fact, the only friend I had moved to Illinois. There were often pangs of loneliness and anxiety, but the medication made those less adverse.
That summer was no different, until he came. He had come to spend the vacation with his grandparents, who lived two houses away from mine. I was 21 at that time. He was older than me, but in the prime of youth. Initially, he looked like just another man, but his aura spoke of something else, something peculiar, and for no reason an urge to unravel the mystery arose in me.
One night, while I was sitting on the shore, looking at the waves moving elegantly. A man came and sat next to me. It was him. I was happy and nervous, both at the same time. For a few moments we shared silence, and to break the ice I started the conversation. Most of his replies were short and precise. A man of few words- just as I believed. And then, he said to me the most amazing thing – All our lives we want to be looked at, and when someone really does, we turn away. I was true to me then, it still is. He left saying that he’ll come back to see me.
He emerged out of nowhere, but when he did, I was mostly at the beach. I loved our walks, saying many things without saying too much. He made me believe May in Goa was not so bad anyway. Then, I saw her again. That was her second appearance. She was petrifying. Those eyes which could rip me apart just with a look, they were back. She somehow managed to know that I’d be outside. I tried to ignore her. I didn’t want to ruin that amazing time, and he mostly left too soon. But it was tough when I knew she was around. I didn’t know what she wanted from me, and she disappeared too swiftly for me to find out.
The most beautiful night was the one when he sneaked to my house. It had been a month and I could truly say I found him strangely charming. I was busy listening to rock blues, completely unaware of the surprise. We then listened to music together and danced our hearts out it was the best time. I remember how flustered I was when my mother saw me and asked me that who I was talking to. It would have been a blunder if I wasn’t quick enough to hide him. On saying him goodbye, it happened again. That creepy woman was back.
Her visits became more often. At that time period I had become really scared. Whenever I went out for anything, her shadow was always behind me. She called my name many times but most of the times I couldn’t gather the courage to look back. And when I did, she just merged into the crowd, invisible to my naked eyes.
It had been more than one month since my lovely meetings with him began. So, one day I picked up some nerve, decided to change my tune and go see him to his grandparents’ house. He wasn’t there. That one day changed everything. It is etched into my memory for lifetime, little did I know what was about to happen. His grandparents didn’t know what I was talking about. I dismissed them as being too old to remember. I looked for him but he wasn’t anywhere. I was disheartened. But there was someone else. She suddenly came from behind, held me with one hand and in other held a knife. For such an elderly age, she was quite strong. I fought for my life and screamed for help. But nobody came for help, instead they were looking at me like I was crazy. My parents saw me and rushed to help. “What are you trying to do!”, my mother shrieked. The sheer embarrassment was overwhelming, and my family had to move away from Goa.
It took me a-year-and-a-half of psychiatric therapy and loads of strong sedatives to differentiate reality from fantasy. Sometimes wished I was never looked at. I never returned as going back was too painful. Things are better now. I have been lucky to find good friends. I will be married in a month. Most importantly, I have learned to accept life the way it is. But sometimes summer breeze can bring back a lot more than memories.