Death In Goa
And now, Michiel Sweerts, you’re sitting in Goa wondering how it is you got to where you are. The days of Roman patronage are long behind you, as are the days of Dutch acclaim. There are no more portraits left to paint, no more cries of “genius” to be heard. Now there are only the questions. And Goa. And the nagging, teeth-gnashing frustration of knowing you’re trapped simply because there’s no where else you can go.
You make your way past the beautiful churches, past the crowds of people (Goa is so much more populated than you had imagined) and finally arrive down at the water. You sit near the sand and watch as Portuguese ships come and go.
Some ships may be arriving from Rome, where you spent your glory years being feted by the wealthy and powerful. Some ships may be headed towards the Netherlands, where you oversaw the building of the vessel which took you and the others to Palestine.
Still, other ships may be arriving from places like Syria. Or even Persia, a place you know well (for it was there the Society released you on account of your behavior). Unlike you, however, all these ships will eventually leave, making fast for the horizon and a future you now realize you’ll never see.
You find yourself drifting off right there in the sand, as you so often do. How many times have laughing children disturbed you believing you were drunk? You’re not drunk, though, you’re dying. Even the doctors tell you so.
This brutal fact makes you more determined than ever to find a way, some way, any way, to get out of Goa, to at least make it back to some part of the continent – back to home. You fight to keep your eyes open. Perhaps you can stow away on board a ship.
Or perhaps you could admit you are no longer a great artist, but a failed missionary who nonetheless sacrificed a soft life for loftier goals. Then maybe the ships in the port would just be ships rather than painful reminders.
You look out at the horizon. The sun is beginning to set into the ocean.
You slowly close your eyes.
Sean Crose teaches high school students how to read and write well. He also blogs on literary matters for the Cheshire Patch. He and his wife live in CT with a fish named Jaws and Cody, the world’s greatest cat.
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