One of those days, we drive. From Diveagar to Shriwardhan. It’s a nice drive. As is typical of me, I am unsure of the way ahead. We look around, alight from the car and walk a bit. The landscape is inviting. We aren’t keen on arriving at Shriwardhan ‘on time’. We are just headed in that direction.
We look around.
He walks by. He. His goats. His calfs, cows and buffalos. Bermuda shorts. T-Shirt. Baseball cap turned backwards, as a baseball player would. Umbrella. A huge stick that could almost excite an amateur pole vaulter. A tan on the skin and weary twinkle in the eye.
He squints at us enquiringly !
I ask him, ‘Shriwardhan ?’
Before I could complete, he says in what seems to be indifferent yet focused tone : ‘Go straight and stay on the right’. The speed and ease, combined with the seeming ease of getting there by just ‘going straight and staying on the right’, for 20 odd kilometers dont add up in my educated mind.
Truth be told, i dont know if he is telling me or this is a standard instruction for his cows and buffaloes !
I repeat, using my professed urban intelligence : ‘Shriwardhan’. Slowly. Like a teacher of a English pronunciation class working on a group of students who have studied through Tamil medium.
“ Shriii-Wardhan ????”…
He replies with a tinge of irritation and a twang of dismissal. Accompanied with a body language which lets me know that I asked the way to Shriwardhan and not to the South Pole. “Go straight. Stay on the right”
He speaks Marathi which the missus struggles to pick up, much evident from her furrowing eyebrows. A couple of staccato sentence exchanges. She translates. ‘The scenery is beautiful, he says, but he urges us to go straight and stay on the right’
He moves on. Tending to disobedient cow and the svelte buffalo with swagger. We drive on too. Driving by such splendid scenery as I can ever imagine.
Roads. Greens. Sea. Roads with a view. And a view with no roads. Of cattle. Of boats. Occasionally of people. And of course, of bobbing fishing boats in every fishing hamlet !
In some time, we reach Shriwardhan. A simple quaint and wonderful place.
That evening, I walk by the sea thinking of the day that’s been. The waves rush to shore, dissipating into nothingness, at the speed at which they arrive. A smile escapes my lips. Thinking of us, our lives, our strifes and such else, much like the waves in perpetual quest of the shore.
A dog runs by giving me a sympathetic look. Bubble crabs run all around the sand. A few kids are wading into to the water.
For some reason, the mind races to a svelte buffalo twitching its dirty tail. Just as a voice rings in the ear : ‘Go straight and stay on the right’ !
A pause and a full minute later, i realise that is sure something to keep in mind.