God says, beloved.
I'm rocked by pitching emotions, most of which are nameless but strong. I love everything too much. I'm also irritated at the drop of a pin, or more likely of a clanging steel bowl on a marble floor, a sound I hear daily, constantly, and in my dreams.
The sky is so blue and YaYa is lying in the sun on the grass in her purple dress. Breakfast is finished. The sky is so blue- the weather changed to that perfect winter Goa weather when each coconut frond stands out from the others, when the greens of the trees and the sunlight playing in them could steal your breath from your throat.
"Women regret everything," I tell Chinua, and like all massive generalizations, it isn't true. But it is true that there is this particular feminine sorrow attached to every joy I experience. The joy of kids growing up, of seasons changing, of a perfect day, of round, beautiful cheeks and little noses. The sorrow of impermanence. Nostalgia, grief turning with leaves and years.
God speaks, and he says, beloved.
I scratch things off my list. All the things we need that are more expensive in Thailand. A funny thing about Asia, each country fills in the other's holes. Blankets. A good pressure cooker. Essential oils. Things other India lovers have asked me to pick up for them. I wander in the market in Mapusa, visiting different fabric shops. I used to hate how hard it was to find things, that each store carried something different and I had to visit them all. Now I love it. The brown stretch lycra, which will be my baby carrier, I buy at the shop with the efficient, polite shop owner. The white muslin, which will be swaddling blankets, I buy at the shop with the cheerful brothers who look so much alike. "How long has your family had this shop?" I ask the one who works in the afternoon. "Oh, a long time," he says. "Since before Portuguese left. Seventy years, maybe."
Blankets I buy at the shop with the elderly uncle who is still in the shop every day, though his children run most of the business. He is my favorite, now, with his gentle courtesy, his neat glasses and white hair.
I love this, I say. I love this.
The lettuce is growing well, and there is so much basil. Miriam will make pesto for months. The new climbing flowers are brilliant and pink on the fence. The purple bougainvillea is blooming like crazy. The orange hasn't bloomed yet.
We leave tomorrow.
Miriam and I went to the beach with the kids and I was so frustrated because I couldn't reserve train tickets like I wanted to. I was angry. "Just walk," I told the kids. "Let's get out of here." And then it was the most perfect kind of day, at the sea. The water warm, the air breezy but not cold. We jumped in the waves. After what felt like hours, we finally left the water. Miriam sat on the shore with the kids and they poured wet sand on their knees, on their legs and feet, making dripping wet sand castles. I walked along the shore and picked up starfish, throwing them back.
Everything changes, you can't keep anything the same. Sometimes it seems that all you can do is write it all down, so you have the stories at least, something to fill your pockets with, stories of sand forming tall drip castles like fairytales on your children's legs. Can you keep the sound of the wind in the coconut fronds? The frothing sound of the surf? The smell of the cashew trees in bloom? The smell of night in India, the burning incense and dung and leaves?
The way we are all wound around each other, the Nepali workers, Kashmiri, Karnatakan women selling sarongs on the beach, Banjara camps with no electricity, just tents made of old sheets, old saris. Everyone comes to sell to the travelers here in Goa, this whole made up world on the Indian subcontinent, rocking back and forth, wavering like a candle flame in a small makeshift tent.
"Sister? You want anklets? Bracelets? Sarong? Shawl?"
Not today, I said. Today I'm not shopping.
I picked up handful after handful of starfish and threw them, five or six at a time, back into the water, as far as I could. Their bodies shed the sand they had picked up, they whirled and dropped into the sea like small dancing hands. If they made a sound, I didn't hear it, the waves were in my ears, and the sound of the kids laughing and my own relieved singing.
I toss and flinch with the strength of love, regret and sorrow. God says, beloved.