I only saw you twice a year. We always went down to the seafront, my small hand shyly intertwined with yours, my finger curled into your palm to trace the callus at the base of your thumb.
You pointed at the street sign each time we passed, told me about the other Foreshore Road in Srinagar, and how you’d take me there when I was grown, to see the Dal Lake.
We’d win candy on the tuppenny falls, then perch up at the counter in Chinelli’s, order ice cream sundaes with a chocolate flake and rainbow sprinkles. You’d smile and say that this was the life, and when you looked me in the eyes I would put my hand over yours and squeeze it tightly, willing you not to add that it was exactly like Fiore’s in Rome.
Sometimes we shared a tray of cockles and mussels instead, and as we wiped our vinegary fingers on your handkerchief you’d say it reminded you of that time you went to County Mayo.
Afterwards we always walked along the Marine Drive a short way, and you’d tell me about its namesake in Mumbai - though of course you still called it Bombay - where the sunsets, you assured me, were the best in the world.
Finally we’d climb the cliff path to Hairy Bob’s cave, the warm wind tugging at my hair. You’d quickly kick away the condoms and tissues by the doorway, hoping I wouldn’t notice as I squeezed through the narrow gap. I’d peer out at you through the rough-carved window, my eight-year-old heart full of joy, because Hairy Bob’s cave couldn’t take you from me to the memory of someplace else; Hairy Bob’s cave was one of a kind, and it was just about me and you.