By the Bay

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing!

The tone in the cafe shifted from the melody of Jazz to the sounds of applause, as she ended the song Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin.

With beer mugs in hand and the crowd swaying sophistically to the off tunes, there was always something about the sea which left everyone glued and lifted at the same time.

She wasn’t new to Mumbai, but no one knew who she really was.

Friday evenings, Jazz and Beer—these were the three things which were synonymous with her, who came, completed her craft and as the lights dimmed, silently walked with her mug towards the pavement dividing the sea from the city.

There was always someone from the gathering, who wanted to know her more than the music she sang. Why is there always a hunch when we see someone?

She could guess, who would follow her and sometimes they would be more than just one.

Mumbai was fast and forward, but it also slowed its pace when she stepped into Jazz by the Bay.

As official letters have a prescribed format, approaching a woman has certain age old formats too. These men who walked behind her, mesmerised by her music, would always start conversations with cliched lines.

***

Music and especially Jazz was never a drug for her. It was her way of coming out and living up what she missed in her monotonous life. Like any other modern woman, she struggled her day working and making ends meet for some five digit amount, but by friday evenings, every week she did what she didn’t know her self.

It is only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make believe
If you believed in me!

Frank Sintara’s It’s only a paper moon was the song with which she had ended the friday evening.

As she walked across the road, finding her spot on the pavement to sit and imbibe what the sea had to sing, she was interrupted in her private concert by someone.

“Aren’t you the same person, who was singing at the bay?”

She just smiled.

“I must say, you add some magic to the lyrics which even the original singer has failed to add!”

She continued to smile.

“So? You sing here every evening?”

She didn’t answer.

“I assume, every fridays then?”

She smiled.

“I might be too prompt, but you have been sitting here all alone, watching the sea which is always the same. Would you like to go out with me, sometime?”

She gestured him to sit next to her on the pavement.

“The car is right there. Why don’t we sit in there and go whereever you wish to go.”

She gestured him again to join her on the pavement.

“I am sure you sang so well, you can speak too!”

She gestured him in a way, asking if she should really speak in front of him, and he nodded in affirmation.

She said, “Those who watch me speak, don’t see the next morning. Since, now you have, I am doubtful. May I still come with you and would you take me where ever I wished to go?”

The colour on the man’s face faded and he ran away without saying a word.

***

It was another of those evenings at the bay, after which she sat at the pavement freeing her soul to the sea, watching far till her eyes could see and was humming a song Thinking About You by Calvin Harris,

In a moment, I know that everything could change.
And I know that, my life would never be the same.
You’re the only one that’s making sense to me.
When I close my eyes, you’re the one, I see.

Her solace and song was no longer hers, when she was paused by someone asking his way to one of the restaurants in the wee hours of the night. He appeared quite distressed and hungry, but was as courteous as he could.

She said, “This one that you are looking for is four blocks away, but would be closed by the time you will reach.”

She saw his face sink.

He said, “Thank You.” And moved on.

Leaving a few spaces in between, he too sat on the same pavement, and started throwing pebbles in the sea, humming something.

The sea too echoed what they both were humming, a male and a female voice hearing their own distinct tunes which sounded same.

Like any other day, I know I’ll find a way-aa-aay.
And if ever I’m alone you’ll say.
I’ll be thinking about you.
I’ll be thinking about you!

As they both heard the same tunes, they looked at each other from a distance and smiled.

***

Each friday from there on, the sea witnessed its own private concert by two private people who happened to almost sync the songs they sung unknowingly. It wasn’t just Jazz—it was Jazz by the Bay after a performance at Jazz by the Bay.

She could only be loved, looked and longed for from a distance. He could be talked, touched and twirled. As the sea witnessed their distances bridge, she wept more for they could never be one.

After a series of friday concerts, one fine evening, he sat next to her and showed courage.

“Sea is beautiful. Isn’t it?”

She smiled.

“I speak to the sea because I feel it understands me like no one ever would.”

She looked at the sea.

“I am ordinary. I am alone. I do what I am told to do. I am never heard. But the sea hears me.”

She still looked at the sea.

“What brings you here every friday evening? You look at sea as if you came from it.”

She continued looking at the sea.

“Conversations! No body wishes to talk. I have no one to converse to, but this sea. You won’t believe, but it talks back too. It answers whenever I have a problem. I soothes me whenever I am anxious. It embraces me. It boosts me. It loves me.”

She said, “Will you believe if I will tell you something and not run away.”

He said, “I am not sure what you would say would be believable, but I promise that I won’t run away as I already am.”

She said, “Those who watch me speak, don’t see the next morning. Since, now you have, I am doubtful.”

The colour on his face faded, but he didn’t run away. He stayed where he was and kept looking at the sea.

As he regained some breath and looked at her, he saw her smiling.

“Why would you say that? You are as alone, as I am.”

Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me!

She hummed this song looking at him, and he was left seated alone on the pavement with his mouth open in astonishment, when he saw her standing in front of him on the sea in a glowing white robe and a beautiful smiling face,

He asked her aloud, “Who are You?”

She replied, “I am the Sea, you share everything with.”

***

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