When I meet someone new and try to make an awkward attempt at introducing myself, besides my basic biography (name, what I’m doing, where I studied, where I live,) I almost always end it with, “So you know? my home in Goa is just by the beach, you should come sometime!”
I was born there, even though I don’t live in Benaulim all 12 months of the year, it is my happy place. If I’m dazed, bored and not listening to you, chances are I’m in Benaulim. The little beach there lives within me. As a toddler, my mum would take me to the beach and as she recalls, I would sit on the shore and eat the sand and sea foam. I think it’s safe to say that Benaulim Beach literally lives within me.
My home in Benaulim is where things sort of SLOW. DOWN. In a good way of course. Benaulim is known for its serene and tranquil aura. Yes, I said aura and not atmosphere because the quiet village almost has its own distinct personality.
Of course, I also agree that there are so many beautiful beaches in the rest of Goa, India the world. I was talking to a friend who was planning a wedding in South Goa and I told him, if you want to have a crazy bachelor’s party then I wouldn’t suggest Benaulim, but once you’re married, you have to bring your wife there, hold her hand and take a long walk with her. The waves will play her a song and the winds will play with her hair as you watch and fall in love with her all over again.
“Woah! That escalated quickly” he jokes, but he did get my point after he finally took her there.
There’s also something about the place that makes me feel a lot prettier than when I’m anywhere else. I almost never wear make-up when I’m home unless I have to attend an event. And well, I can’t. The tropical and humid climate won’t let you keep your perfectly styled hair and make-up on for too long. Just enough time till I start appreciating my natural wavy curls and sun-kissed happy skin with little rays of gold bouncing off my collar bones and the tip of my nose.
Home is like that. I shed all the layers that I put on to either shield me or help me rally forward. The masks fall and I’m unarmed. Truly vulnerable, as I wake up to my grandmother humming to the plants in our garden, watering them, nurturing them, like her own children, despite the Mango tree towering above her, ever so mighty, yet ever so humble with a makeshift swing made with a jute rope and a plank of wood hanging on one of its branches. The swing has been there ever since I was a little girl and now my baby cousins continue to keep the old swing alive.
Summer holidays at home meant all of this. As a child it meant playing in grandma’s garden, sleepovers at my cousins’ house which was just a stone’s throw away from my own, spending hours on the beach drawing things in the sand and watching fishermen bring their daily catch to the shore.
It meant waiting for my grandfather to come home with ‘Jallebis’ and bubble gum with free stickers, with which I destroyed my parents’ wardrobe by sticking them all over the mirrors and doors. It meant waiting for the ‘Poder’ (Goan baker) to bring us freshly baked ‘Pao’ and my favourite, warm and fluffy, sweet buns. It meant being smothered in auntie’s kisses and outings with my uncles. Even though the summer vacations lasted two months, it was never enough, going back to the city as a child would cast a shadow over my face, and even though I loved the city the hope of being back home in Benaulim fueled me enough till our next trip.
As an adult going back home is different but yet so beautiful in its own way. I certainly do not fit on the swing anymore, but I can finally take long walks on the beach by myself. It is said that walking barefoot on the beach is a great exfoliator and does a much better job than a pedicure. Sometimes while walking along the beach, skinny little stray dogs meekly walk behind me. I never drove them away. Though, I always wondered why they did that until my cousin once explained that sometimes dogs follow humans for protection from other dogs that hold a ‘higher rank’ in the pack. I cannot confirm if that is actually the fact but I believe it, so if you find a girl with a couple of doggies walking behind her on the beach, chances are it’s me.
Its tiny little miracles like these that cause me to hold home so very close to my heart. I’ve lived in and traveled to a couple of countries and cities throughout the span of my life that mean a lot to me, but I’ve put home on a special pedestal.
So you know? My home in Goa is just by the beach, you should come sometime!
Picture credits: My brother, Allan Fernandes