Fragments

…there is that place again, a stretch of white sand beach backed by low limestone cliffs. On the top of the cliffs, there is a winding road leading to nowhere. Along the beach, there is a group of houses, five in total standing side by side.

These dwellings are separated from the water by a long stretch of medium height fence made of dried harvested saplings. Next to it is a concrete path connecting the houses. These habitats are more or less alike; each has a balcony facing the ocean, you enter it from the left side.

Once inside, you will find yourself in a make-shift kitchen under an extended portion of the roof with hard packed dirt as floor and a bamboo counter which contains nothing but three pieces of rocks placed in a triangular position for cooking.

A set of bamboo steps will lead you up to the balcony. If you stand with your back to the water, there is a door directly in front of you which leads to a small sitting area. The bedroom and the bathroom are next to each other at the back of the property; one has to negotiate few steps down to gain access to these two rooms for they are built considerably lower than the rest of the house.

The first humble abode is occupied by a single man who owned a motorbike one could rent to go to town. He used to work abroad and has an easy smile and a nervous but sunny disposition.

Next to it is the house I seem always coming home to because I ended up there a lot. I sleep there as well.

The third one is owned by a young dark beautiful woman with two children, a boy of few months old whom I adore and love, and a girl of about eleven. Her man works on a fishing boat and comes home only occasionally. The woman seems to like me a lot for she always talks to me about anything and everything.

She has two close friends, an older cheaply made sexy loud woman who is married to a military man and often eyeing me with undisguised curiosity, and a very handsome young educated nicely dressed gay man who talks with a clipped accent and bears an unmistakable good breeding and upper middle-class background. He looks at me with quiet interest.

Next to this is a shop managed by an elderly couple with a spinster daughter who is timid but has a surprising habit of speaking her mind on rare occasions when one less expects it.

The father, who is also the chief of the whole place gives an impression of the only one in the whole neighbourhood who truly understands what I’m all about and often corrects anyone’s wrong assumption which is mostly bordering on accusations born out of ignorance.

The mother, on the other hand, likes me for the simplest of reason: she likes everybody who doesn’t rub her the wrong way.

Others inhabitants of the place who are by the way always grouping on the front of the shop are still faceless but familiar presence.

The last residence is a small restaurant (If one can call it like that) they sell different kinds of food in pots sitting side by side on the front of an open window. There are a couple of tables placed randomly inside and outside; one can eat a meal there if desired. I do mine because apparently, I don’t cook.

The mother and daughter who own the establishment is a friendly pair and always go out of their way to provide what they think my favourite dishes are. I show my appreciation by consuming whatever they have to offer and always thank both of them politely.  

Five hundred meters from this small community, standing apart and alone is the most beautiful native hut I’ve ever seen in my life. It is bigger too. The whole construction is made of varnished bamboo with a red tinge in it. There is a hammock hanging on the balcony where I sleep sometimes. A boy of around eleven lives there (I thought at first and for a long time) all by himself.

I’ve met him one afternoon I was walking along the stretch of sand (a habit I seemed developed since ending up in that place) and saw him pulling a small blue boat out the water. The next day, I found him sitting on the steps of my house waiting for me. He was carrying a plastic bag which contains a laminated photograph of his mother who died giving birth to him. She looks exactly like me.  

Farther in the distance where the beach made a sudden turn to the left is a group of tall boulders huddled together as if protecting each other from the forces of nature. Under them is a cavity one can take shelter from the rain if necessary. I know I’ve been there already with someone. But the person is still shapeless in my mind. Maybe later I could remember more….

I dream about this place over and over again for a year now, and I cannot understand why. Sometimes the events are always the same. But other times, not. Some occurrences are missing from the previous occasions and other ones replace them. There are nights that other characters have been added and the plot becomes darker, more dangerous and sinister; but often times the place and the people are tranquil and it is sort of a refuge for me, somewhere I could go to if I feel lonely, sad or threatened.

I often wonder if this place really exists or I am just recalling it from a distant memory. Could it be a product of my imagination born out of wishful thinking and hidden longing to be somewhere else? I don’t know…

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