When I met her for the first time: Tales from Unawatuna


“Give me your hand, the mud gets heavier on the way ahead!”, a smile broke through her jubilant face, her eyes squinting at me all the while the sun lit her face.

The mud indeed got heavier, as I wasn’t the only one panting and struggling for life through the terrain; the entire regiment that was marching behind us was sinking deep into it, sounds mixed with laughter and utter panic emerging from the confused mass behind me incessantly. My legs were wobbling beneath the pulsating mud, unable to lift my heavy shoes filled with mud up.

Can I turn back? Should I go back? But no, I couldn’t turn back; I don’t want to go back; my eyes were fixated on her for anything of this to make sense. Her wavy hair and her cutting voice only adding to the magic that I was too stupid to comprehend. I held her hand firmly as she pulled me towards her from the sinking mud into the firm soil beneath the mangrove trees. I regained my consciousness once more, my chest heaving up and down as I laughed uncontrollably at the mess from which she yanked me back.

“Wait up, wait up! Mina! I can’t breathe! My shoes are non-existent! I cannot go on like this; my feet will be done for!”

“They are already done for Anwil! We still got a little more to go from what I heard.” She said with certainty that the predicament we’re in isn’t going to end soon. I sighed and removed my shoes to empty the mud from it, only to find that the sole is completely gone and I could see the black mud on the ground through it.

“I’ll just leave them here, ain’t nobody gonna take this.”

“I’m not even sure if you want to take that on your way back”, her tone was more of a considerate one than sarcastic, wondering how I’m going to survive on barefoot for the entirety of the trip.

“I’m dead” was my internal monologue. But something told me that she very well understood it from my grimace.


The context is this: we were on a trip on a quest to explore the southern beauty and were taken to this remote place that resided on the southern end of Srilanka. The place itself was charming, with people living alongside nature harmoniously. I happened to witness this firsthand on our way there, with the hotels and houses only getting greener the closer we were to the destination. The walk on the mangrove mud came a bit late on our trip schedule but oh boy wasn’t it the most exhilarating part of the entire expedition.

“It wasn’t that bad, was it? We made it out in once-piece”, she said, anticipating my sarcasm from a mile ahead.

“Oh no, not at all. Apart from my shoes, my feet, my backpack and my peace of mind of course.”

“It’s going to rain. You think it’s going to rain in the beach too?”

“Wouldn’t make much of a difference if it did, I’m still not going to take a bath.”


That feeble “ah” was the final word that came out of her mouth before we started towards the beach to end the trip on a joyous note. I didn’t get to talk with her that much during the bus trip to there though. A shame, yet cannot be helped as we boarded on different buses.


Will there be a better epilogue than the one I had at the Unawatuna beach that day? We got there right when the sun was halfway down the horizon, the stars beginning to glitter the skies in the ways you will never ever see in the city side. The sounds of children running towards the water and their mothers pulling them back and distant yelling from the silhouettes riding the small waves not far from the sandy shore. I could’ve said that she took a bath in the sea, but my memory isn’t all that precise for me pinpoint something like. Engrossed and enjoying my sausage bun was when she talked to me for the final time for the day.

“You ate?”

She couldn’t see my plate from the angle as she was standing abreast facing front in my left side as I kept my plate to the right so it was logical that she asked it. I shake my head while simultaneously pointing with it to the plate I was holding on my right hand.

I’m fairly certain that she didn’t board any buses as it was much easier to travel through an alternative path straight to her home, rather than going round and round; she had taken it. Leaving me wish that I could’ve talked longer, something more meaningful, something more memorable, but all I did was to munch on my sausage bun while enjoying the view of Unawatuna.

For once everything seemed so perfect, even otherworldly perhaps. Should this moment be etched on my memory as a regret or the opposite of that – whatever the word for that might be? Well I guess sometimes, it’s just better to leave the memory unnamed, for naming it will only serve to narrow the magic the ambiguity had in the first place.

Written by: Abeeshan Sridaran

Image Courtesy: https://bit.ly/3Ke8kbY

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