Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fleeting memories... a dolphin and a coral garden

Fleeting memories... a dolphin and a coral garden
An excerpt from The Last Wave - An island novel

Chapter 11
Pgs 118-120

‘Jabo!’ Uncle and David screamed in unison as Popha cranked up one of the Kirloskars now. It came alive with a sputtering sound, and its plume of dark, diesely smoke coloured the sky a dirty grey. The wind blew it straight into Harish’s face, nauseating him mildly as the vessel set out onto the placid waters of the small bay.

David was seated next to Uncle, while Harish had already moved to the front of the boat and sat on the bow plank at its very tip. Seema walked over and sat next to him just as Popha cranked up the second Kirloskar. The engines created such a din out in the ocean that it was almost impossible to hear one’s own voice – it was the only thing that marred an otherwise perfect setting.
The gentle mist of the morning had cleared and a little fishing boat was just about visible on the horizon. A moist, invigorating breeze caressed the faces of the occupants of the dungi as it simultaneously cut through the waters below and the air above. The sea itself was calm – a sheet of thick, fluid glass so clear you could see down to the very bottom of the yet shallow ocean floor.
The dungi was moving forward with purposeful linearity, the water below bobbed up and down, and patches of colourful coral in all sorts of shapes, sizes and forms passed quickly by. Tropical fish, big and small, painted as if by a child exuberant with a newly discovered palette, darted in and out of the coral architecture, some in groups and others in solitary explorations. It took a few moments for Seema’s untrained eyes to settle into the ocean’s complex rhythms.

Harish and Seema were both bent on either side of the dungi, peering intently, enthralled by the wonders passing below them. They looked up at each other, shared excited smiles and quickly turned back to the waters, like little children, not wanting to miss even an instant of this visual treat.
Their eyes were immediately drawn to a smooth, linear movement in the depths ahead. For a moment it looked like the shadow of their own vessel. In the next moment it was a mystery transformed. Out of the literal blue, unaware and oblivious of the mysteries and love it inspires in the humans it shares the world with, a dolphin emerged from the deep and swam alongside Seema for a few seconds.
‘Dolphin!’ she shrieked.

Nothing could have prepared her for this moment. The dolphin skimmed along just under the surface of the water, keeping pace with the Kirloskars. The morning light passed through the waves, making abstract white patterns on the darker body of infinite elegance. The beautiful creature swam along for a short while with silken grace, and then broke through the water surface, emerging for a few moments. Gliding along in the country boat, Seema was within touching distance. She only just resisted her desire to reach out and caress the glistening animal.

The dolphin continued to swim with them, propelling itself effortlessly over the shoals of tropical fish and the coral. Then, with an imperceptible twitch of its tail, like an accomplished ballerina at the height of her performance, the dolphin switched to the other side of the dungi and swam alongside Harish for a while. Harish was no less ecstatic – only his nature did not allow him Seema’s liberal expressions. He watched transfixed as the dolphin emerged again from the water for a few fleeting moments, dived back in and then disappeared from view just as quickly as it had appeared.
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