The Stinking Skin – The King of Seas

There is a lot to say; there was so less. There is so much to think; there was nothing at all. There was a whole world to go; there is no place like home. Home. The more I think, the more vague it becomes. The more I try to remember, the more I forget, and the more I tend to go near, the more far it gets. But, there was a whole world to go; there is no place like home.

When I now sit at the safe beaches of the Bay of Bengal, it is a wonder why the view is awe-inspiring me. The sea, the waves, the magnitude and magnificent magnanimity of the vast, widened up, endless and non-exhaustible ocean is ceaseless. Ah, how well can someone talk of this and still feel it is a very naive description of the venerable marvel! The more I think of the sea, the more I get sunken into myself, the more I try to dive in, the more I would be pushed out. The enigmatic impressions I have formed over this elaborate wonder are because of a fisherman. A fisherman who, like any other fisherman would chase fish down and net them up, to sell them and make a living. But that fisherman has not just angled the fish out of the ocean but anchored me into the depths of it. He has hunted the largest with his bow and arrow, he has traveled through the uncharted stormy seas returning back with his promise always held up. That fisherman has always had a huge smile over his face, and his arms and legs were very strong; with the happiness or the physical strain, I never got to know. He had a long curly hair which was often wet and poured up. Mm, when I talk of him I can feel a very painful knot in my stomach.

“What are you thinking?” she asked; the girl with the big round eyes who was leaning over my shoulder. I forgot that she was with me and she is the one with whom I go to the beach. “You are again lost in your thoughts of the sea?”

“No,” I wanted to say, but why would I lie to her; the only one with I am staying and the only one I have and would have? I just smiled without saying anything. I slowly raised my hand up and placing my thumb over her smooth cheek, I stroked it. I simply shook my head with the same smile.

“The beach always seems to upset you,” she said, taking my hand off her cheek. That gesture means, no funny business and whatever she talks is really serious. “Everyone gets exited looking at the sea and you,” she paused for a while and her warm grip around my arm was tightened, “you seem upset.”

“I,” I was saying, may be that was my first statement after a very long time, “I am fine, I was just thinking something,” I said. I never got a chance to tell her anything about that fisherman ever. I started to think may be that was the time I tell her. “I am fine.”

“What is it that is bothering you?” she asked, or more of demanded. “I would like to know.” I didn’t say anything for a while, simply staring the the sand of the beach on which we were sitting, and then she added softly, “shouldn’t I?”

My god! Is there something about me that she shouldn’t know? I should tell her about him, I decided.

A little boy sits at the beach for the whole day waiting for a boat to arrive. All the other boats arrive, but not the one he was looking for. On the shore was a huge fish market; one of the state’s largest with hundreds of people selling and hundreds buying fish. The boy sat still, staring at the horizon. He could see the sun setting down and electric bulbs being lit on the shore, in the market. He was worried. His throat was heavy and his hands, a bit shivering.

The sounds of the market were filling his head constantly. The price of different fish being screamed out and the heavy noise of the crowd’s rumble were trying to keep his head out of the worry which was conquering him. But he couldn’t. The more those sounds were filling his head, the more he hated them. The smell of the fish was filling his nose, but somehow, he found tears welling out of his eyes as the smell oozed into his nose. It was like he was crying because of the fishes’ smell. He hated it. He hated the stinking smell. He didn’t turn back to look at the market or the people. Anyone who came to him or before him, blocking his sight off the horizon, he hated them. He wanted to see no one, he wanted to talk to no one, he was just waiting.

I took out a chart and scattered all my drawing stationary on the table. Pencils rolled a bit and stayed, markers were stopped by the cap lids, but most of the pens fell off the table. I didn’t care much about them. I sat down. I could feel some kind of an intense emotion filling my mind up. But what that is, I couldn’t know. I started thinking. What is it that is in my head? Nothing better than my drawing can clear up my head. I opened the caps of my pens and sketches and began to draw, which lasted for a whole night.

The kid opened his eyes, and everything was obscure for a while. Suddenly he has remembered the shore. He was sitting on the shore in the evening and that was all he has remembered. He ran out of the house and it was morning. His mother was cleaning the veranda of the house. She saw him and smiled.

“You slept on the shore yesterday,” she said, and there were no particular traces of anger in them, which surprised him. “Nagaraju uncle brought you home back,” she was about to give a bit more detail, but the boy was impatient.

“Did he come home?” he asked. At that, the smile on her lips faded a bit. She tried not to exhibit the evident uncertainty before the boy, but the boy, highly anxious, could sense even the minute change in the mood of his mother. “He didn’t?”

“He will be,” she said, asking the boy to come near. The boy was overwhelmed. His face has gone heavy and eyes bursting tears forth. He slowly walked towards his mother and his mother, leaving the broomstick down, took him closer to her; into her embrace. “He will be, don’t worry,” she said as soothingly as she could, trying to console the shaken kid.

“All the boats are back,” the boy started speaking and the moment he uttered his first statement, his weep has broken up into a sob and he was uncontrollable in the next few moments, “Everyone is back, except his boat.” His mother caressed his tears greased face, wiping off the streams with her saree. “He should be coming by yesterday’s morning, but he didn’t,” he said, controlling himself. “He should have come by now.”

“Ayyoo,” his mother appalled with a short smile over her face. “Listen, Krishna,” she said, holding his shoulders firmly, “Listen,” he was in control, looking at his mother. “You would listen to me, right? Wouldn’t you listen to me?” The boy was nodding his head in fierce agreement. “Then believe me when I say this. . .” The boy was keen and intent to know what she about to say, and then she said, “your father is the king of seas, Krishna,” the boy couldn’t understand the rippling of his skin when he heard that, but those words were buried deep into his head, and would stay there forever, “your father is the king of seas.”

In the morning, I was woken up by her. She was slowly nudging over my shoulder, “Krish, wake up,” she was saying by the time I was half conscious. “Are you okay?” She was asking and I nodded my head dizzily. “What is this?” She picked up the chart and has examined the drawing which cost me a whole night. “Is this your new drawing?” She looked at it intently, trying to understand what the picture means. “A storm in a sea?” She asked, showing the picture to me. Staring at it for a while, like looking at a strange picture and not mine, I nodded my head.

“Yes, a storm in the sea.”

That evening, the storm has stuck again. The wind was breathless. The sea was so restless, it looked like the sea itself is being chocked by some kind of a monster inside. In the throwing wind, the boy stood on the shore again, where he sat the previous evening until he dozed off. This time, he was out of control. The storm seemed tremendous. The times felt like inescapable. The waves were like welcoming the end of the world. The boy looked like he is hopeless.

“Come on king of seas, come back home,” he was chanting under his tightly shut mouth and barred teeth.

But there were no signs of any kind of a boat in the eye sight. People were scattering here and there, securing things off the shore, in the case the storm might gain strength and sweep then all into the sea. For then, it was just a heavy wind with threatening waves, but sea is a deadly place if one wants to stay when Mother Nature is impatient. Sea is a very bad place to drown and die.

The mother was searching for the boy and she justly found him at the place where he was standing.

Without a word, she held his shoulder and started dragging him off the place. The boy, with all his might, wanted to pin himself there. But with his sunken feet ploughing the sand, he was dragged back by his mother into the hut, away from the shore where he thinks his father would return.

The tears dripping off her cheeks were being rubbed over mine, while my lips sunk in hers. My tears mingled up with hers and both together ran till the lips, making her sweet lips taste salty.

She was strongly holding my face with her palms, and the grip was so firm; she doesn’t want to let me go, and my temples crushed under her heavy love.

“You’d never feel alone again,” she said, slightly parting her lips from mine. “Not as long as I am alive,” her breath was heavy; because of the long inhales she was grabbing. “Never alone again, no.”

I was about to say something, but her lips jammed mine, and the emotions of a thousand unsaid things rushed into me.

I cannot express the precise emotion, as it had become the part of an obscure amalgamation of all the things that were running in my head. But the kiss of my love, I’d say, stands out at any moment of time in my life, for there is nothing more precious to me than that in this world or the other, and a salty kiss showered in literal tears of her love? I don’t want to talk about it and limit it to words, I shall rather keep it boundless, inexpressible, unknown and more than anything, I’d keep it to myself. Only for me.

By the time the kid and the mother reached the house, there was a shrill quarrel between them. The boy wanted to go out and wait for his father to return, while the mother wanted him to stay at home, safe and far from the sea. The boy was stubborn and was not ready to listen anything his mother says, and vexed of the relentless, unyielding efforts to convince the kid, the mother, losing her temper, rose her hand high in the air and struck his face with all her might.

The boy bit ground and his cheek felt burnt. Tears gushed through his already crying eyes.

Immediately, the mother bent down to pick him up. Holding the boys shoulders she tried to make him stand, for which we was reluctant. He didn’t want to stand up. He wanted to fall on the ground and cry till he would get rid of the clutches of the tension, fright and worry that’s killing him from the inside.

Suddenly at the door, an elderly man appeared, who happens to come running towards the boy’s house, “Devi,” he called out to the mother, through the door of the little home. “The boat is here, we can see him coming.”

Before the woman could comprehend what the elderly man was saying, the boy was running out: out of the words his mom would utter asking him to stop, out of the hands of the elderly man who would try and stop him from going into the storm, and out of the house, which would bar him from meeting his father as soon as possible.

“Krishna,” a shrill cry of his mother’s was heard, but it didn’t stop him. He felt his mother following him out of the house, towards the place where the boat would come.

“When was the last time you remember seeing him?” She asked. I pondered over the question. But that’s a really tough question to answer. I can’t possibly place it exactly. But before I can answer, out of anxiety, she asked, “do you remember him at all?”

Taking a moment, I grunted without knowing what to say. I just smiled.

Her voice was soothing again, “do you remember how he looks like, or, how he feels?”

He was the king of seas. The boat was reaching the shore and the people on the shore could see four to five people standing on the boat, without a speck of fear in them, in the midst of the thundering sky and storming sea.

As the boats came near, the men were more clear and they could be differentiated even in the mist of the choking ocean.

As the boat got close, the boy’s father, who could be recognized has jumped off the boat into the ocean and started walking towards the shore along with the sea. Why he had jumped over the boat, no one could understand till a while. There was a huge rope tied to the boat and the boy’s father was dragging the boat towards the shore with his mighty, bare arms.

The men were shirtless, for soaked shirts do more bad than drooping rains, and the three to four people on the boat are holding their fishnets high, and the boy’s father, through the wind, through the sea, like parting the sky into two halves, was pulling the boat towards the shore.

He was the king of seas.

The long curly hair-locks were all wet but flowing with the devilish wind, and the boy could never forget the strained muscular frame of his father, who looked like a Demi-God who was heaving out the whole world from its destruction on the world’s end. By the time the boat is on the shore, many sailors on the shore have stormed towards them to help and then, leaving the rope, the man fell on the ground as a gesture of rest.

The next instant, the boy was in his arms, and with a heaving chest, with trembling words the father said in a single brush, with a child-like smile, more innocent than the boy himself.  “Didn’t I tell you? I found the 6 foot fish. We brought it. That is the largest fish ever to be fished in these shores.”

The boy no longer cared if the longest fish record is on his father’s name or not. He didn’t care if his father really is the king of seas or not. All he cared was his father. He tightly hugged his father with his fragile arms like he’d never let him go. Then, with his face buried in his father’s chest, he found that his father smells like a fish himself. The stinking smell. But he loved it.

“I never got to ask you. What is his name?”

“Huh?”

“Your father’s name, Krish. I don’t know his name.”

“Oh,” I remember my mother calling him by his name on several occasions. “Vasu,” I said, all my skin rippling at the utterance.

“Vasu,” she muttered, like registering the name in her head.

“Yes, and he is the king of seas, with a stinking skin.”

{It is a privilege to be the only person to know what has happened in a story and what will happen later. Isn’t it so?

The pictures I have used in the story are taken from Google and whose they really are, I don’t have knowledge of it.

The burden which gets off the shoulders after telling out a tale is terribly tremendous.}

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One Comment Add yours

  1. theushakiran says:

    I would call this The young boy at the shore, a flipped perspective of the Old man and the sea, and dare I say was it as good read as the original, but oh wait, it’s just a story within! And yes, it’s beautiful. evokes a lot of deep feelings and moreover, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING INSTEAD OF WRITING ALL THE TIME?.
    P.S: “It is a privilege to be the only person to know what has happened in a story and what will happen later. Isn’t it so?”
    Now I know, that Kiss happened, isn’t it!
    Naice

    Liked by 1 person

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