I saw fishies! Big fishies, small fishies, round fishies and thin fishies. Them fishies were swimming in the water. Not flapping around on dry land on the tables of fish vendors who hack off their noses when they’re still alive (trauma). No. These were fishies swimming in the DEEP BLUE SEA.
It all started when once upon a time I was living in a lovely, idillic, romantic, smog ridden, garbage ridden, stinky city. The water over there was your lover, your master and your executioner. You wanted it badly. To bathe, drink and kiss. But every touch could be fatal. Sending you to the toilet for weeks. And it would come at you from all sides. From the shower head or the monsoon rain; it might attack you on holy days as the payload of balloons from above, or creep up from the iron cups in restaurants. One developed coping strategies. Spitting in the shower at the rate of 10 times a minute. Putting my daily Bagmati river swim sessions to a halt. The water also had the habit of hiding itself and sulking in a corner. For weeks you wouldn’t see it. With consequences I won’t divulge, lest I shock the more sensitive amongst you.
As time drifted by in that land-locked place, I escaped into fantasy. I gazed for hours at the National Geographic pin-ups depicting creatures of the Cetacea family. I started reading up on them on Wikipedia and in other media.
Do you know the garden-variety Hippo is the closest land-dwelling relative of the dolphin? And do you know whales partly get around the evolutionary hobble of the muscles that naturally are tied to speech are controlled by parts of the brain that you don’t have voluntary control over by means of having developed a controlled way of breathing so the poor creatures don’t drown under water?
I moved away from there now. For months I have lived here in the water-mass poor capitol of Malaysia. Lush tropical islands just out of reach. As my time was drawing to a close, I still had not been able to dip my head into salvation. Until my boss forced me to take a dive. He stopped very short of taking my fingers and pressing them on keys to make Air Asia queries on the inturwebs. But harsh words were thrown around the table.
Arrangements were made and eventually us geeks set out for NATURE. As opposed to COMPUTURE. We all said goodbye to our loved ones. Mouse-pads were stroked, promises of early return were whispered, tears streamed on short-circuiting keyboards. Into the heart-land of Islam we went; to Kota Bharu (Bandaraya Islam (The Islamic City)). And from there to Perhentian. It was all jolly fun, this NATURE. Palm trees abounded, as did cute little country-side mosks. Abounding that is. Tons of them. With their cute little mosky turrets. Cute little girls waved us along in their cute little headscarves. We were bound for TURTLES! Islamic turtles! Turtles Ahoy!
After we got all settled in the crappiest crammiest hut on the island, we went out to do some serious sunbathing. Which was wildly contested by our pinky-white nerd-flesh. It crawled away from the nourishing cancer sun, distrusting this new sensation with a vehement hate. “Yes one of us is from Transylvania.” “No, correlation does not imply causation.” “No you can’t have our autograph.” “We have never even seen those movies.” Not to speak of the unprocessed silicon we were supposed to lay on. The mortal enemy of our processed silicon brained friends. Not to speak of the salty water threatening us from all sides. We were very much out of our element amongst all of these strange new elements.
But a light flickered in my heart: DEEP BLUE OCEAN. And it devoured all other sentiments with a flick of it’s little pinky. As soon as the realization kicked in (me, water, submerge, now) my legs started thrashing about madly, until I found my lungs full of water. I sucked up all the sea to lay bare the fish within. There were preciously little of them. Sand beach. No good. Once again those legs started thrashing, until they were tired from going there and fro.
This was no matter for legs. It was a matter for head. Booked a snorkel-ride for the next day, and plunged in at the designated spot. Three, two, one, paradise! Legs thrashing around wildly. I was treading through heaven. Sharks, Nemo-direction-fish underneath. Hold breath, try to get their attention. Which way is the gulf-stream? Hold that thought, need some air.
I went THROUGH heaven. I was not IN heaven. This would not do at all. Booked a diving course. Now there’s a way to get lost! Up, down? Dunno, don’t care! Deeper is what we want. Lil’ Nemo’s all over the place. Them lil’ translucant clownfish try to bite you to scare you away from their anemone home in real-time. Much cuter than in the movie. Lil’ cleaner shrimps wash your hand at the cleaning-station, and say goodbye with a bow. It’s a very provincial place down there.
The deeper I go the higher I get. Doing bomb-dives by blowing out air. Inhaling on time so as not to become shish-kebabbed on the sea-porcupines below. Must go deeper, deeper into the blue. A quick glance at the silvery stuff bobbing above my head. I can still see it. Boring la! Hand on nose. Pop ears. Go down further. Hunting for peace.
A hand touches my shoulder. Fumbles on a tube. The bottom falls away beneath me. The hand lifts me up without moving. It’s all wrong. Back in the boat now, grinning from ear to ear. My incessant incoherent babbling falls on deaf mans ears. Weird people. Back at the diving-club: “What was in the tank? Oxygen my dear. You know, the stuff you breathe on land.”
Hi! My name is Ties, and I’m an addict.
No turtles though. Boo!