I often see death hovering above everything, sticking out its tentacles, and taking someone in its mouth on a whim. Its belly is swollen with the lives it has consumed and its mouth drips with the sorrows of those. It is an invisible (to the mortals) aerial creature. It flies fast despite being so heavy. It is omnipresent, and in the ocean, it is as visible as a boat shaped moon on a mirror-like pond.
In some parts of the world, my kind is notable for recreation, as if they remind the ordinary people of the beauty of the sea woman. While in other parts, my kind is notable as the medium for reaching a safe haven. For finding land beneath one's feet. For finding birds in the cotton candy sky instead of fighter jets. For finding shelters instead of rubbles.
I have heard about the deaths of many of my friends. They carried people with the intention of helping them reach towards safety. But death had other plans. It dived into the sea, and jumped out from the depths, giving them hard blows and knocking them over. Then it picked the souls of the distressed travellers one by one with its tentacles. Yet some survived while most were swallowed by the sea. This way, many of my friends were washed ashore and many kept floating on the ocean, lifeless. The sea sometimes spat out the bodies and their belongings. And sometimes it acted selfish and kept them to itself. The sea anemones saw them settle on the sea bed. Their limbs stretched out, one on top of another. They were the mourners of the funeral that took place under the sea. As for death, it flew and dived and knocked out boats with its swollen belly regularly. Many haven searchers died.
They are often on the news—the dead, the lifejackets, the boats, the ones who survived. They speak of the ordeals many are going through. They speak of atrocities that are being committed without any halt. They speak of injustice and an unsafe future. They speak of the chronicles of being on the ocean. They speak of living like a close family member with death.
I am very nervous. It is my turn today since I have been declared fit to carry people across the ocean towards safety. Either I can slip them into the arms of safety or I can slip them into the mouth of death. Orange throngs of people are coming towards me. They are paying their final respects to this rubble filled homeland of theirs. They are crying on the shoulders of those who are not leaving. They are chanting prayers before boarding on me. The babies' eyes are wearing uncertain expressions. The parents are trying to console them with tears welling up in their eyes. It is the moment that they have been dreading ever since their miseries began.
The sea is pushing its arms and pulling them back in. It is softening the sounds of goodbyes. A man is pulling me away from the shore. I am overcoming the waves tearing through. These are the same waves that delighted the families here once. The travellers are crying. I can see the hands from the beach waving in unison.
I have been pushed into the arms of the Mediterranean. The aerial creature is hovering over me. As if to taunt me. As if to make me realise that it will win no matter what. It is flaunting its tentacles.
To the Mediterranean, I am a bottle cap, and the travellers are ants with orange pieces of food stuck to their bodies. I am as fragile to it as I am to death. Both have signed pacts to co-ordinate in the process.
As I am into the vastness of the blue, I figure the ocean has so many limbs. They stretch for limitless miles. There is no land in sight. The winds are tearing through. The arms of the ocean are rocking me hardly. The people are chanting. Their voices have become one. The sounds of the violent waves have muted the musical beauty of it. From an aerial view, my turquoise body carrying orange suited people against the dark blue is highly noticeable. Death is circling above, flapping its wings violently. It gets me anxious thinking what it might do next. It keeps on circling.
I cannot find any of my kind here. I am all alone, shouldering such a huge responsibility. We are at the mercy of the sea. I am treading alone against the waves, forming transient foam marks in the sea. We all are desperate to spot any shore in sight. We are away from civilization, above the empires of whales that have lived for many years, in some unidentified and untraceable place of the globe.
It has been three days. Both the sea and death have been merciful to us. Death hovered above but didn't interrupt our journey. We have reached a land awash in sunlight. It appears golden. A cavalry of sun bathed people are cheering from the shore. The travellers are wiping happy tears, clutching each other in hugs. The sounds of their happiness are audible now. The waves of the sea could not mute them. The beach is littered with seashells. I kiss the grains of the golden sand. The seasick travellers are relieved. Their tear filled faces are lit with joy, breaking into uncontrollable expressions of happiness.
Among the crowd, I notice many posters that say, “Refugees are welcome.” It is as though each letter is a balm to their pain. Each letter assures them that humanity still exists. Each letter accepts them as a kin.
Their hearts melt by the charm of acceptance and love. So does mine. Even the aerial creature smiles a little before speeding into a different direction.
The writer is currently a 12th grader in Birshreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College.