One of the choices a narrator has while telling a story, is where to start. Honestly, thats one quandary I was really hoping to be spared of this time around; Unfortunately, despite the fact that this entire story happened in a little less than 20 minutes, I am not to be excused from that vital decision. Luckily for me I think I am sneaky enough to play around the rules this time around.
Anything I tell you about Catherine would probably be speculative. The short time I got to speak to her, while I sipped my morning tea and she had her breakfast, is certainly insufficient for me to paint a true picture of her. But considering I have already thrown caution to the wind, I might as well indulge you on some unimportant details about her…
Catherine had wanderlust, she had traveled across the world from Britain(where she lived) to Indonesia, Thailand, most of Europe, Australia and now India (I am certain she mentioned a few more countries but as I said this detail is probably not that important), She had a toothy smile and that grace & charm that comes with that Brit accent…
It was my first stay at a public hostel and so far it had been an exhilarating experience. My room mates came from Korea, Britain & Finland, and conversing with them was like having a burst of colour suddenly appear in front of your eyes. After the initial hesitation I was getting pretty good at small talk and having conversations with strangers.
I met Catherine post my breakfast. We got past the initial pleasantries quite fast… You know, all that talk about how long we had been here, where all we had visited, what we loved in our trip so far and how long we are going to be around.
The conversation moved to the places we had been to around in Goa. I told her about a lagoon that my friends and I happened to stumble upon the previous day. The lagoon was beautiful beyond words and the scarcity of people on it made it so much more beautiful. We had spent most of our evening there and were returning back a little after sunset, thats when I decided to look back and found an amazing sight. The lack of ambient light had lit up the sky with stars. Possibly the best night sky viewing I had ever had.
I told her that my only regret that evening was to have not tried taking a picture of the scene (which in hind sight, might have not come anywhere close to how good it looked anyway). She smiled at the reference and told me about one of her most memorable traveling experiences.
Of all the places in the world she had visited, Catherine had a special place in the heart of Indonesia. She had spent 6 months in the country but this story was about one day she had spent in one of Indonesia’s islands. The island consisted mostly of a mountain and a beach surrounding it. She had traveled to this island with her friends and they had spent the night sleeping on the beach.
The next day they woke up to what she described as the most beautiful scene of nature she had ever seen. The rising sun accompanied by the blue crystal clear waters and the beautiful sand, was a view to die for. She clicked a few photos of the beautiful morning and sat back to enjoy the view.
A few days after she had returned from the island she wanted to look at the pictures she had taken. She looked through her baggage but couldnt find her camera. She was terribly disappointed that she had probably misplaced it during her travel and left it behind. What she regretted most was not having a picture of that morning.
Weeks rolled on by and she made it a point to tell everyone who asked her about her travel, about that amazing day in the island. Each time she did it, she felt a tinge of regret for losing that photograph.
Later while she was busy packing for her next trip she realized that in one of the bags she had bought in her last trip, there was a hidden zipper. It was a compartment in a compartment. When she opened it, she found her camera neatly placed inside. She was delighted and searched for that picture she had taken.
When she finally saw the picture, she was disappointed by what it looked like. Her memory of the day was so starkly vivid that the picture could never do it justice. She deleted the picture…
I have recently learnt that we cant always rely on our memories. Over time, events get coloured by the emotions we felt at the moment. Sometimes outcomes of situations can effect how we remember the situation. Nobody can explain an event unbiased by their thoughts and opinions.
I dont know if what Catherine saw was as beautiful as she described it. But what I do know is that she believed in it for a fact, sometimes what we believe in is far more important that what is.