By Ashish Dhakal
The church bells toll the hours of the morning with a continuous vigour while the street below is nonchalantly filled with the happy cries of children on their bicycles. It’s 17th February, 2018, and we have been in Nice for eight hours now. I open the window and a cold morning air rushes in with a fresh smell carried from the sea. We move through the winter branches—leafless—rustling past as they part to reveal a wide view of the shore stretching before us—stones, small pebbles lined along it instead of sand as the greenish blue of the waves turn foamy white as they gallop to meet the line that separates the land from the vast sea. The calming hue expands far into the horizon where the grey skies dissipate and become one with the waters. Such peace—what a plunge! Before us, the gloomy Saturday closes in on midday. In Aix, the pigeons are flapping their wings as they walk on the streets avoiding cars and motorcycles; the cathedral bells are ringing—distantly all echoes in our heads as we approach further from home. What is it that we have left behind the comfort for? The air whistles, spraying the sprinkles from the sea on our faces; the waves rise and crash against the rocks, and they continue. Michael fishes for a flat stone from the treasure trove at his feet and aims it for the water. It makes four little skips before disappearing with a faint ‘splosh’. He reaches for another while Stephanie stretches herself on the ground; her tall blue umbrella that she bought only half-an-hour ago as shelter against the rain next to her. She raises her phone in front of her and takes a couple of pictures of the quiet painting before us. Pavi walks with her hands in her coat pockets, eyes fixed at a distant blue; her legs have a mind of their own as they trace a little life on the stones
“It’s rather nice here,” words rush out to meet the waves dashing against the rocks. We walk slowly. The parade is later in the night and none of us has an express desire to go. We are simply content by the sea again. Only this time the sun and the warmth have decided to call in sick. I hear it is quite serious, but I am sure they will get over it soon. Nevertheless, none of that anymore. I do not miss them right now. Perhaps there is a small part of me wishing that they were here too, but the rest of me is quite convinced that that is beside the point. We are here now and that is all that matters. The sea smells a little different, had you noticed? A quiet hint of rejuvenation mingled with a pinch of return and a whole lot of exciting possibilities. What a plunge, indeed!