Meandering through the maze of roads, I finally saw a shade of blue in the distance. I finally found my way to the beach right outside Phuket international airport.
The whole promenade was lined up with five star resorts. I felt a bit out of place riding along with most of my laundry hanging on my bicycle pannier bags.
I saw a few local boys in lifeguard uniforms at the beach.
I approached them and asked,
‘Camping here Okay?’
‘Sleep?’ one of them gestured with his palms making a pillow for his head to rest.
‘Yes Yes, Okay to sleep here?’
‘Yes sleep sleep no problem.’
Happy with the news I leaned my bike against a tree and reached into my bag to find bananas. I offered one to all the life guards there.
They accepted it readily. With further conversation I came to know they were all boys from the village nearby. The youngest one, Om,
was just 9 years old. He would just come with his village friends to the beach to have a good time.
Everyone had a fishing rod with them at all times. They would fish in hope of finding a fat one for dinner.
Over the afternoon, I walked around to find a nice spot to camp. Once I found one, I started setting up my tent. The sun was setting with effortless grace. The horizon, alive even in the final moments of the day’s demise.
Once I finished setting up the tent , I looked around to find Om standing right next to me.
He smiled shyly and muttered something in Thai.
‘Me, no Thai’ I gestured animatedly.
He quickly squatted down and rubbed his palms together and mimed a person warming himself up around a fire.
‘Oh you want to set up a bonfire! But no matches or lighter!’
He ran to his brother who was catching fish on the beach. He paced back happily with a lighter.
We collected kindling from around the place and soon we had a fire set up.
‘Fish, fish!’ he gestured with a stick in hand.
He wanted to barbecue fish !
Fuelled with excitement, he ran to the beach side and started to look for something.
I built on the fire meanwhile.
In a few minutes he came back with two tiny crabs. He poked them into a stick and put them to grill on our little fire.
The sun had sunk into the ocean. He saw his brother retrieve his fishing equipment and walk towards his motorcycle. As if on a deadline, he raced to his brother and whispered in his ear.
Soon I saw him back, right next to me with a big fish in hand.
‘Fish, Fish !’ he declared excitedly. He poked another stick into the fish and set it on top of the fire.
The joy in his spirit knew no bounds!
Soon his brother called his name out loud. He turned to me and waved ‘Bye Bye!’
‘Oh what about your fish Om?’
He pointed his finger at me and said
He hopped onto motorcycle and sped away to his home in the village. He waved goodbye for as long as his eyes could meet mine.
It is raining at the moment. The fire we set up together has died out.
But the fire he set up in my heart, of a warm friendship, beyond all barriers,
Roars and flourishes with the mighty monsoon breeze.