The Retreat, Rhythm of the Soul

The Retreat 
 

The sea retreats

Sparkling sand on the horizon

Intricate patterns, resplendent shells

Reflection of colors

 

All the people were there

Picking up shells and stones

Squealing in delight

At the oceans’ seemingly generosity

 

More land more play

More sand castles

Mellow blue tide

A placid sheet

 

They don’t see it coming

Foamy white gigantic curls

Hissing with a piercing sound

The avalanche of the wave

 

Ferocity and might

The sea flies over them

Drags them like prey

Every time they try to run

 

Transcending barriers

Sand blanketed by the sea

A cascade of brown and black

It now roars with fury

 

Oh wave, oh wave, this is not you

They cried, prayed, and wept

Submerged under nature’s wrath

Floating logs, fallen trees

 

Clinging on to dear life

Waves continue to pierce

Hissing sound, venomous plunge

And then it retreats

 

Traces of seaweed, black sand

Stones, bodies, and debris

Victims of the killer wave

Scars on the shore

 

Time and tide, sea regains its rhythm

Seasons, months, people are playing again

The sea retreats and roars, hissing sounds 

Now merged with remnants of human echoes.

Rhythm of the soul

                                                

Tadum tum tana tadum tun tana Tadum tun tana

At first, I merely listen to the beats of the tabla

Until the sound syncs with my soul

My arms and legs sway

In a synchronized rhythm

My body curves and flexes

In a manner I haven’t known

It feels like a stranger to me

Almost like a shadow

Perhaps my alter ego

My fingers twist and grasp

Creating exotic shapes and patterns

Cham cham cham

The anklets on my feet 

Soft and melodious

Like the first fall of rain

Then like the fury of a brewing storm

It drowns the sound of the drums

My lips curve into a smile

All I hear is cham cham cham

The anklets have triumphed. 

 

Alas! My happiness is short lived

Dheem Dheem Tare, my guruji sings

Tadum dhun tana tadum dhun tana 

The tabla overshadows my anklets

I stop, miss a beat, and freeze on the spot

That beat triggers a certain memory

Deeply embedded in my subconscious

Awakened by the tremors of that dark night.

 

Barely the flower had time to bloom

When that monster placed his hands

On the bud and plucked the petals

Muffled cries under his big hairy palms

Drowned by the sound of the tabla 

Played in the background

I scratched his face, I cried for help

My voice just like the anklets

Cham cham cham

Drowned by the sound of the drumbeats

Tadun tum tana tadum tun tana tadum tun tana.

 

That nightmare left me with pain

Remorse, anger, and shame

How could the one I trust

Betray me in vain? 

Not a soul I could tell

Who would believe me?

Not my mother, not my father

Afterall he was his brother,

I hid in the lurking shadows

Encroached in my shell

I wanted to free my soul

Of this turmoil and anguish

Oh God, what have I done

To suffer from these scars

Embedded in my veins?

 

Dance was my refuge

Music my healing balm

For a while I thought

I was lost in a sea of calm

The harmony, the rhythm, the swirls

Transported me to another world

I remember stamping my feet

As I moved to the beats

Tadun tum tana Tadun tun tana 

To let the anklets echo and triumph

Drown that sound

Cham Cham Cham

 

It continues to haunt

Sometimes in my dreams

Sometimes in my recitals

All I want is to escape

From the shadows of the past

How can I when this sound reverberates?

Tadum tum tana tadum tun tana Tadum tun tana

This time, I vow to myself

To drown those demons

I twirl, stamp, and curl my fingers

Cham cham cham, Dheem Dheem Tare

Tadum tum tana tadum tun tana Tadum tun tana

All I hear is cham cham cham 

I smile as the anklets have finally triumphed.

Bio:

Swetha Amit is currently pursuing her MFA at University of San Francisco. She has completed certified courses in creative nonfiction from Stanford continuing studies and the Tin House Winter Workshop 2022.  As a writer, she has published her memoir titled 'A Turbulent Mind-My Journey to Ironman 70.3’ and in a few anthologies. She has upcoming pieces in Gastropoda Lit Magazine and has secured admission into the Kenyon Review Writers’ workshop in summer.