Roy had some of his dad’s disposition and in no time made dozens of friends in the hotel and on the beach. It meant I too had a glorious time in the company of new and exciting friends. We ate delectable food, played games and went on excursions to local tourist spots in two large cars Roy’s family had rented. But I also enjoyed the quiet, lazy hours I spent with Roy in our double room overlooking the sea, chatting about our life and dreams.
Roy said he didn’t want to be an engineer like his father; nor did he want to run a business. Rather he wanted to be a forest officer, like my uncle he had met, live in a quiet rural town, explore the woods every day and come home in the evening and listen to folk music. He loved the sea, he said, and would take every vacation on a beach. He said he liked the sea so much that he would one day like to die right next to it. We spent our days swimming long hours and then relaxing on the beach under a large umbrella and reading.
Seven years later I had a letter on familiar hotel stationery: Roy had taken his wife and daughter to the beach where we had spent a summer together and was staying in the same hotel and, believe it or not, in the same room overlooking the sea. It had taken him some time, but he had fulfilled his project of a family vacation on the beach. I felt happy for him.
It was a shock to get a notice of a funeral service for Roy a few days later. I called his wife and expressed my sympathy, but could not bring myself to ask her how his end had come. She volunteered it was ‘sudden’ but did not explain whether it was an accident or an unexpected health problem. That left me free to imagine: Roy was swimming in the ocean, his body glistening in the late-afternoon sun, his arms moving rhythmically as his ears echoed the folk music he enjoyed, his eyes on the beach he so loved, his heart peaceful and jubilant.