those eyes….

Chapter 1

January 2021 Varca, Goa

Anshuman ran along the sea line his shoes digging into the soft sand, the salty morning breeze ruffling up his uncut hair. He loved running on this stretch of the Varca beach because there was barely a human in sight for miles. The pandemic had already put a dampener on local tourism across Goa but Varca always had that virginal aloofness according to his research. He valued his solitude tremendously and even now as he halted and panted looking up to feel the morning sun on his face, he wondered what he was doing here. He found a rock and sat on it trying to breathe life into his fatigued body. As the beads of sweat meandered their way from his forehead through the unshaven cheeks and finally joining their counterparts on his neck, he sighed trying to figure out the direction of his thoughts.

It was over a month that he had known about Meera’s passing… a decade ago. His sister had meant the world to him and it was difficult for him to accept the fact that he had been groping his way in the dark while she had already been subjected to a watery grave. According to reports, she was murdered and her body thrown into one of the Goan beaches and found in Baga where it had washed ashore. He had the information from trusted sources. If he didn’t trust the army intelligence and the Crime Branch whom could he trust? He had good friends in Mumbai, Keshav Goyal who owned a Pharma corp, and Amandeep Singh Sehgal ex-army, all of who had colluded to dig out the truth while fighting their own battles. They had served him the news on a platter. He had begun to lose hope of finding his sister after years of dead ends but the news of her death had hit him hard.

He realized he wanted to know what Meera was doing in Goa when she was pregnant and despised her husband. She had been in love with the wrong guy, Rehmat alias Haider-ul-Rehman a dreaded terrorist as per her last call. She had even married him and walked her way to the funeral pyre. Rehmat had been killed in an encounter with the Army last month but Anshuman was far from closure. He had wound up everything in Hissar. His buoyantly flourishing business, his stakes in the family enterprise… everything. He had sold off his shares and handed over the reins to his cousins. He had then purchased a condo right here facing the empty stretch of the Varca beach and had moved here in time for the New Year Carnival. The fireworks had lighted up the Varca night sky but he had plunged into the amber-colored liquid in the hope of finding solace, but it was of no use.

Getting back to the present, he panted and looked across the stretch of the beach. It would be soon time for the high tide and he would hear announcements to stay away from the waters, right into his condo. He squinted to look at the waves gathering haphazardly from different directions and crashing into each other. He wondered if the waves of change in his life would set his direction for him… would the rhythm of the waters set his soul free…? He barely slept in the fortnight that he was here. Strange nightmares haunted him where he could see Meera from a decade ago, drowning and he would be paralyzed to watch her get swallowed by the mighty ocean.

He would then wake up sobbing and couldn’t sleep after that. He had been depressed for ages after Meera had gone missing and even been medicated for a while. But he knew, unless he found out more about his sister, her last days in Goa, he wouldn’t be at ease. He had known that her body had been washed ashore along the Baga beach, and just yesterday he had paid a visit with Meera’s picture in tow hoping to get some information. But again, it had been moot and no one seemed to know about anything that transpired a decade ago. He had however left his contact with a few local shacks which were in business a decade ago to get back to him if they recalled anything. There was nothing more he could do but he couldn’t let himself leave Goa yet. There was this invisible pull that held him back…

He looked along the shoreline and saw he had wandered to the extreme corner of the beach for the first time in the fortnight he was here. There was a huge covering of palm trees and wild bushes and beyond that was a single storied home well camouflaged and unless someone looked closer it was possible to miss it completely. He wondered who would want to stay away in seclusion… probably someone like him who ran away from the chaos life offered. He shook his head and decided to explore a little further now that he had come so far along. There was a huge rock probably formed from years of being hit by the monstrous sea waves blocking the view of the final beach stretch beyond that point. The rock projected ahead like a roof and he gradually walked ahead curiosity getting the better of him. He approached the rock and found a naturally formed cave. He couldn’t tell how deep inside the cave was, but the musky smells and the echo of something that sounded like crashing waves spooked him to explore further. He turned back and was about to leave when he heard some sounds beyond the rock. It sounded like children, making him wonder what were kids doing here on this isolated stretch. He walked ahead crossing the rock and saw a group of young boys gathered in a circle. They were all talking together and the discordance was irritating him.

As he kept looking around to see if their parents were closer by, the group moved and he saw a young boy not more than ten seated on the sand, scared and sobbing while the others were mocking and laughing at the poor kid. Reflexively, he walked towards the group and spoke with a stern voice. “Hey, you… all of you… what are you doing here…? Where are your parents…?”

The other boys not much older than the boy on the ground looked at him in bewilderment and then at each other. One of them, probably their leader walked towards him and said, “…Hello sir, I am Jacob. May I know what brings you here to our corner…?”

“…So Jacob, personal corner… is it…? Ok then I will leave you all alone and make a phone call to the officials on the beach… maybe you can negotiate with them… what say…?”

Jacob looked back at the others and they all gave him the ‘look’ as they walked away leaving the crying boy alone. He walked towards the kid who flinched as he neared him. “…Hey buddy don’t be scared alright…? My name is Anshuman… what’s yours…?” Anshuman sat next to him.

The boy, with his overgrown unruly hair flying across his face, looked up with tear-stained eyes. Gosh, they were brown and beautiful guarded by long fan-like eyelashes and something about them tugged at his heart. Those eyes…they spoke a volume… they held a great deal of depth in them. He sighed realizing he was losing his nuts big time. He only knew one other person in this world whose brown-black eyes spoke to him, ever since they were children…whose perpetual unkept hair kept falling on her face every time she was engrossed in something…  his beloved sister, Meera.

©priyagole. No part of the story can be copied or shared anywhere without the consent of the writer.

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