I crawled into the car after my daughter Nirjhorini, mentally checking whether all the necessities had been stowed inside the luggage bag. The bag seemed a bit bulgy for a single night's trip, but in a journey involving my five-year-old, drawing books, crayon sets, and dolls were a must in addition to the usual stuff like clothes, slippers, medicines, raincoats and umbrellas. Nirjhorini's breakfast, mid morning meal and lunch filled up their respective Tupperware or steel tiffin boxes and awaited in a cloth bag for their turn. My husband Subha drove steadily through the highway and village roads and succeeded in reaching Shankarpur by early noon.
On approaching the hotel, we got an expansive view of the sea swelling and soaring and pouncing on the whitish sand. Soon after lunch we settled on the cement seats grooving a certain stretch of the beach. Swooning us with their strength and timelessness, the waves rose, wrapped themselves with foam and blended with the white meshed water embracing the sand.
At the onset of evening, we trotted through a clump of pines and eucalyptuses, the growing darkness swathing us and unnoticed pine cones arching our feet. Walking away from the shade of trees, we traced the foamy outline of the crashing waves, the water channeling between our toes and the deep roar of the sea sweeping over our senses. Unlike most beaches I had been too in recent years, the Shankarpur seashore was studded with seashells. Delighted at their variety, shapes and colors, Nirjhorini squatted down to pick them. I joined her too, reliving childhood memories, when any trip to the seaside meant a considerable addition to my container of shells back home. We stood in the sea, the advancing waves splashing against our legs and drenching our clothes. It sprayed at our eager eyes and leaped into our unconsciously wide smiles. Whenever the water receded, we felt a unique and slightly ticklish sensation under our feet as if the sand was shifting from where we stood. However, we had to take a few swift steps backwards as the thrust of the sea was scaring our daughter. As the darkness thickened, we returned to the hotel, a cool breeze messing up our hair and the seashells clattering in our packets. Nirjhorini craved to be with her crayons and me with the bottle of Vodka.
The next morning, me and Subha took turns to bathe in the sea as one of us had to stay away from the water with Nirjhorini. Subha had a whale of a time, frolicking in the sea. When my turn came, I tiptoed between the seashells, taking care not to crush them or prick my bare feet and waded slowly into the tumbling waves. I sprawled on the bed of wet sand, clinging to one of the scattered rocks to ensure that I am not washed away. Then I stared at the sky, layers after layers of foam flecked water enveloping me, relieving me of the heat and stress and the nag of unfulfilled wishes, ushering me into the realm of unchallenged bliss.
Before heading for Kolkata, we took a peek at Digha. The waves were much smaller and the crowded sea beach lacked the serenity of Shankarpur. However, we fulfilled the purpose of our visit by treating ourselves to delicious fish curries in Purbasha restaurant. The pomfret fish curry Subha had ordered, won our taste buds with just the right amount of sweetness, spiciness and salt. After being polished off from the plate, the thick gravy continued to garnish our thoughts concerning food and happiness and remained as the perfect coating to the memories of the trip.