Day 100: Arambol
Three and a half hours after our eyelids shut, they are wrenched open by the marching band babble parading from the phone alarm. Marnie and I squint at each other cross-eyed from our respective pillows in the early morning light, but I avoid watching her stuff the last of her things into her backpack. How has a month passed already?
We trot over to the German Bakery for breakfast, as usual, as though this isn’t the last time we’ll do that together. The familiar crowd is there; some hungover, some wearing sunglasses to hide eyes redder than an embarrassed bottle of Heinz, some in jogging pants. We have eggs and fruit and lassis. I write; Marnie performs the final paragraph of a long monologue, her daily project. The last paragraph, mind you.
I harass Marnie with the stupid voice we’ve adopted as an ongoing joke this trip, the one that has left many a pair of shorts rather damp. It’s just not so funny today, for some reason.
Two hours whiz by. We go to the hotel room to grab Marnie’s bag, then come out to the street where her hired moto taxi sits. Sachit, the lanky driver, waits patiently. He snaps one last photo of us together, then tosses her huge bag on the handlebars in front of him. Marnie clambers on behind. Her face is red behind her sunglasses.
“BYE! I LOVE YOU!”
They drive off, leaving me in the street blubbering like a big red baby, all the way back to the hotel. I flop on the bed, snivelling pathetically. I lay there for a while, hoping sleep will rescue me from my distress; roll over. It’s the first time I’ve been alone in a month. I’ve thus far experienced almost all of India with my sister no farther than an arms reach away, and now she’s on her way back to Canada. I sit up and try to braid my hair in the mirror. Ten minutes later, with not a single successful twist in my locks, I move to the balcony to send messages to my family. I drag myself to the German Bakery to eat and write. It’s packed. Vicky, the rather stereotypical model dude who has an unwavering immunity to social cues, joins me, as does a Swiss guy named Jan. I put my keyboard away. We chatter about tattoos and lack thereof and motorcycles.
When Jan leaves I follow suit shortly after, turning the corner and walking directly into Sachit. Marnie’s taxi driver! He got her there safe, he says, his eyes crinkling into a smile. He shows me a picture of her on his phone that they took when they pulled over to pee.
I go back to the hotel room and put my swimsuit on, then find a quiet road that I’ve not been down yet, one that leads to a more isolated part of the beach, away from the German Bakery crowd where inevitably I will get into conversations with people I know and not get any writing done. I find the perfect restaurant, in the shade, in the quiet. I plop down my bag and run down the stairs and across the sand and into the water. Better. I eat the best Greek salad I’ve ever had, no feta, sub paneer. I get a lot of work done, even if it is overtly frustrating today.
Back at my room, I shower, write, put on a dress. I have a drink. Maybe I’ll go back to the German Bakery, I think, have a casual night out. But the rum and last night’s three and a half hour sleep mix a drowsy cocktail behind my eyes. I lay on the bed, typing, until voices that aren’t there start talking and visions that aren’t real start creeping into my peripherals. I’m hallucinating. It’s nine PM. My head bobs sleepily, until taking a final dive onto my keyboard and I lay unconcious beneath the fluorescent room light until a beeping wakes me. My phone. Marnie! She’s in Delhi, waiting for her next flight. She tells me Sachit, the moto taxi driver, kept pressing his back into her chest during the bike ride to the airport until she was nearly sitting on the back tire, and his mere fingertips steered the handlebars. Then during her flight from Goa to Delhi, the guy sitting next to her didn’t hesitate to feel up her arm and leg the moment she fell asleep.
I start writing again, sleep again, wake up again. Get fruit from a street stall at midnight. Pull out my keyboard.
“I’m a professional. I’m a professional.”
At one in the morning I finish my work. Then, I sleep, and don’t wake up til the sun rises.