And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, I would remember that once I saw the dragons aloft in the wind at sunset above the western isles, and I would be content.
Last year in late December, I set out on a brief jaunt with my family for my cousin’s wedding to one of the most exquisite countries in the world, Thailand, which is known to be the travel nucleus of Southeast Asia.
Everything was initially new to me. Be it the excitement of traveling on a plane away from Pakistan after so long or experiencing the culture of Thai people, a run-of-the-mill savor of their food, calls for Tuk Tuks and massages or its blossoming wildernesses, prominent beaches and hundreds of graceful-looking temples, everything had presented itself to me like a cuff of culture for the first time ever. It became home in only that one week, but a home with a touch of some things a little different.
Now, don’t get me wrong. That was not the only time I had seen such traditions. From where I have roots in, it is almost the same — almost, but not quite. In Thailand, excluding the multinational tourists, you will see that sovereignty and beauty has always grasped a hold of a blossoming soul, and it has never sought for an end.
Amongst other things, what is one of the most interesting truths about Thailand is that it is the solitary country in Southeast Asia that was never taken up the baton by an European country. Perhaps, a part of the reason why they are so potent in their philosophies and urbanities and way of doing certain things is because they never did experience a loss of culture; the colonial masters would have sunken these virtuous people to live the same ways of life, manners and mores as them. Somewhere along these lines, we would not be setting our eyes upon the Thailand we know as today – the Thailand I visited last year, and might I say it, fell in love with over and over, a thousand times over.
It has not all been the same, ever since I had come back to Pakistan from there. It is as though since I have tasted the saltwater of its rain, have been kissed by its gentle wind and have felt the soothing fondle of the velvety sand that slips right between your fingers — as though smoldered by mere contact — I keep doubling back to it through my mind like a broken record.
All I seem to have been gummed on are the picturesque panoramas; its prepossessing sunsets and sunrises, and the undying peace. It was beautiful. As simple as that. I ensured to take as many photographs as I could, to produce videos of every single moment spent in its bewitching surroundings, trying so hard to somehow wedge the entire country in my camera so that the remembrances and those special moments could forever hang around in my mind as fresh as a fledgling pear-tree blooming.
Safe to say that I failed.
As days passed by, and then months, fading memories and unfeeling portrayals were all that were left in hand and mind. No matter how much I tried to remember the feeling of the tranquil brutality of its waters that I loved with my all — the power-driven dominion I felt with every single breath I took of damp and briny air of the open with ease — I was failing. Those stored moments were slowly slipping away from my spiritual touch.
I failed to keep in mind that once I would retrace my steps to my home country, I would eventually blank over the sensation of sangfroid and the lulling caress of the ocean breeze I got when I was there.
In that moment, I swear I realized and felt how small and sparing something as simple as happiness is: a glass of iced watermelon drink, a portion of fresh coconut or pineapple, the high rush of the amalgamation of adrenaline and dawdling joy and panic of falling toward the home of gravity after taking the dive for the bungee jumping, that five minutes siesta after you snooze your once shrieking alarm, a fleeting trip on a boat around the open seas, the swishing sound of the ocean waves, as you powerlessly stand before all its might. Nothing else.
Three quarters of a trip of the earth around the sun, since I last felt the ghost of that real smile on the edges of my lips — the capturing presence of peace on the focal of my mind — but bliss and gratitude were meant to linger around you in flashes before crossing the fences of fantasy and barging into the enormity of reality by changing to misery and distress. Even so, for a trickle of moments in the vastness of time then, I had the whole world in my hands.
Somehow, I failed to capture that, and now, its fleecy soil shapes my soul that is bursting at the seams with the breath of the sea.