Day 4: Ocean
29 December 2017


The Friend in Need
Matdura Sivakumar

My interest in the oceans surfaced at the tender age of six. It was no surprise, as my mother was a marine biologist and she exposed me to the many creatures of the seas. I often followed her for campaigns on saving the ocean. My mother always told me that the ocean was a friend, and we should never hurt our friends.

I was sixteen when the unexpected mishap took place. It was a dark and cloudy day, when I was at my routine job of clearing litter from the ocean. Suddenly, I slipped from the boat, and fell straight into the water. It might now seem strange to say, but I was actually drowning into the deep waters. The irony is, I am a good swimmer. It felt that as though something was pulling me deeper into the waters and before I knew it, I was under the sea!

I looked around me. I was surrounded by beauty beyond measure. Stunning corals and colourful fish swam past me. The water was a deep, sapphire blue when you look at it from a distance. However, when I looked closer I realised that far off this spectacle, there was a tinge of grey on everything I saw. The coral reefs were damaged and dying a slow death. The vibrant fish had spots on their bodies and did not have enough food supply. There was litter everywhere, in various sizes.

That was when, a tiny seahorse approached me. He had a cotton bud coiled around his tail, and could not seem to remove it. In his face, I saw despair and desperation. A cry for help in the most subtle way possible. As I helped him untangle himself, he whispered a soft and tender 'thank you'. I watched him swim away, and my heart swelled with love and compassion for the creatures of the ocean.

I slowly slipped into a deep, mysterious sleep. When I woke up, I saw my mother by my side. There was a sense of relief in her face. I tried to recall the incidents that had taken place that morning. It was as vivid and realistic as I remember it. I suppose this is my calling. This is my mission to help the ocean and its creatures from dying out someday. I instilled my mother's saying deep inside my heart, and vowed to be the defender of the ocean.

Now, I am the founder of an organisation dedicated to keep the ocean clean. My hair is greying, and my vision is blurry. However, my quest still kept me going as I wanted to see my ocean as the safe haven for all forms of life. I managed to pass on my love for the ocean to three generations. I believe that we, the humans, will only spread love and compassion to our oceans as time goes by. The ocean is our friend after all.

Yap Ming Yao

Waves crashed against the shoreline with an almighty thunderclap. The young man watching them was an outlier in more ways than one. He stood barefoot in the sand, the only person on the coast wearing a three-piece suit. Once the dark material had been elaborately embellished, meticulously made elegant. Now they were sea-soaked and sandy, his only leftovers from a past life. The other beachgoers gawped at him, but he didn’t mind. Inquisitive stares were the least of his problems.

She was like the sea, he thought. She’d never agreed, but it was true. Her mind was as vast and unfathomable as the oceans’ depths, he used to tell her. She laughed it off, knowing he was joking, neither of them wanting to admit at the crux of every joke lies a kernel of truth. Overhead the gulls cried. The ocean encompassed an incomparable expanse of marine life, he thought, the same way her heart knew no bounds when it came to those she loved. It was cheesy, he knew, but one of the great hallmarks of love is that little things like that seem rather inconsequential in passing.

Everyone who knew her had loved her, the same way they loved going to the beach to watch the ocean. It wasn’t the type of pitying love you’d have for a memory you couldn’t put your arms around, or the bounding, magnanimous love people reserved for puppies and very small children. She wasn’t like that, not at all. The type of love people had for her was different; the type of love that comes with a subtle fear of what exactly you were dealing with, midnight black and unapologetic for what she was. It was a sensation that most people were uncomfortable with.

You couldn’t help but love her though, despite how dangerous she was. He knew that better than just about anyone else on the planet, the man thought. Looking out at the stretches of the sea that lapped lazily around the edges of his vision, his mind returned to what she was like. No one man can hope to know every nook and cranny of the ocean, its territory so expansive that even a study of the studies of the ocean (and wasn’t that funny, a voice inside his head whispered) tested the limits of an individual. She was like that too, he decided. Nobody could have truly understood her completely. Not him, not her parents, perhaps not even herself.

Yeah, just like the sea. A plastic bag washed up on the shore, one of the thousands that littered its surface on this beach alone. The ocean and her shared that too, he thought. The sardonic smile he’d been wearing faded away as the reality of the situation set in, the first of his teardrops making its way down his face. He knelt in the sand then, willing the ocean to take him away. She’s just like you, he whispered, her disease is fatal too.