On the Eve of Departure
by Martin Ough Dealy
Star studded black tropical velvet is giving way to lighter shades in the east; his hammock is gently swaying.The youth is vaguely conscious of the dawning bird song with the rustle of palm fronds disturbed by a morning zephyr.
Waves shwish, shush rustle and ripple in gentle unceasing rhythm. Distant rollers roar ominously in their endless struggle with the coral reef. These living ramparts protect the golden sands that stretch in gentle curves defining water's edge where merge the sky, the sea, and the shore on a distant horizon.
Unburdened sleep gives way reluctantly.
Suddenly he is eager now to savour this moment of sheer tranquil morning beauty; this place, this day, and this time.
A time alone between the end of school, pending embarkation, future uncertainties and the certain loss of familiar things.
Walking now along the empty beach, he drinks in the perfection of the morning when the air is still cool, where the palms reach out anticipating a morning breeze and a vigorous brook of crystal fresh water hesitates in shimmering pools before crossing the beach to disappear into the salty embrace of the blue lagoon.
He resolves to ignore for now insecurity and fear.
He escapes into the warm embracing waters and swims out beyond the breaking waves where it is deeper, then dives to white sands below. He lies there looking up to bright boundless azure sky beyond the shimmering restless border between water and air above.
The relief from reality lasts until bursting lungs can wait no more. Then, with another charge of cool morning air, he returns to the quiet ethereal refuge in the magic peace of the waters below.
But the refuge is temporary. It is time now to swim slowly to shore and face the reality of irreversible departure.
There was, then, no going back.
Seventy years on this old man still savours and remembers the beauty of that moment long ago. Never to be forgotten was the uniqueness of that place and the unrepeatable window which defined a critical life cross-road.
The sheer sense of happiness and promised escape overwhelmed at last the bonds and constraints of that unbelievably lovely yet impoverished, constraining island.