"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Sunsets And Siblings

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Following the road to Calicut our driver, Babu, reached the hotel in good time. After showering, taking tea and a rest, we drove to the beach for the sunset.

Indian families frequently assemble on the shore at dusk: the sun is less fierce; the sea breeze refreshing.

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There, a mother and her two children were enjoying the spectacle.  As she stood bathed in golden light at the water’s edge, the sea lapping the hem of her sari, her young son and daughter paddled with unrestrained glee. Though the waves were gentle and the children in shallow water, the mother chanted an almost constant litany: “Be careful. Not too deep!”.

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The brother and sister’s innocent pleasure, alongside their mother’s anxious happiness, triggered memories of my childhood.

Our mother was not a swimmer and would stand nervously beside the breaking waves as my sister and I tried to jump them.

My sister, a couple of years older than me, was by far the braver of us both. Although shy with strangers, in the security of our family she was a fearless tom-boy.

Given an audience, I could not stop talking – but when it came to action I was much less adventurous. Little has changed.

Water redeemed me. It was the one area where I had greater physical prowess and confidence than my sister. I gloried in its overwhelming power and my seeming weightlessness.

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It is from such memories – the shared moments of joy and grief, our childhood bonds – that unwavering love and solidarity are forged.

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Fifty years later I can no longer jump the waves, alone or with my sister.  More than five thousand miles and different continents now separate us.

But the love, friendship and support have never tarnished.

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One response

  1. These images have an mystical quality that makes it hard to look away and continue on … pure delight.

    November 14, 2010 at 4:49 am

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