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                          On being a Mermaid..........
                         By    C. Jayanthi

I went into deep slumber one hot June night, in Delhi, the beautiful and green Capital of India. I had this feeling of having a free fall….down…down..down… as though my soul was lifting out from my body. I opened my eyes, and believe it or not, I was swimming. My human legs were no more, I had fins. Lo behold! I had become a mermaid! A new avatar.

I looked at my scales and fins in the reflection in water, I looked beautiful, I thought. However, I had hands that I could use for swimming. I had green moss and some under-water flowers on my body that passed for clothing, and lovely back tresses on my head, and there all sorts fish friends who were swimming with me, they made way for me and were generally protective.

I found that I lost the human voice, and instead a sharp series of sounds and squeaks emanated from my mouth and somehow the other under-water understood this. What was really amazing was that I could understand their sub-sonic messages that they passed on to me! This was fun. And the greatest gift, I was capable of original thought. I was after all, half mammal! Very soon, I forgot I was ever a human being.

I swam in the blue green waters of the Ocean, came across reefs and the most alarmingly beautiful fish. We greeted each other by raising our fins in salute. When I was tired, I went to the shallower reaches of the ocean, and rested among the underwater shrubs that were closer to the surface. One day, while I was resting, I saw a human being who had a mask on and artificial fins was diving very close to where I was resting. It was a human male. I became very quiet so that he thought I was part of the shrubs. But as he looked around, my glistening fins attracted his attention. He started moving towards me. Oh no! What was I supposed to do now?

I was in a panic. I came out of the shrubs, and he followed me. I swam fast. I did not look around but I could sense that he was catching up fast. I squeaked for help. Oh, I did not want to be caught. But then, I got help, a blue whale nearby saw my flight and lunged towards the human being, his friend the shark also swam towards the human being. I paused in my swimming and turned around. The human being looked really frightened. He bolted. He swam towards the shore as fast as his legs could carry him. The shark tore a little bit of his leg, I could see blood, I did not like it much, but then the human male swam ashore and was lifted out by his friends, who I could see from the clear were fussing around him and his small wound. He may have forgotten about me in all this adventure.

I raised my tail fin to thank the blue whale and his friend, the shark. They raised their fins in acknowledgement and swam away. I survived the day. I thanked the Lord of the Seas, the divine being whom we sea creatures cannot see and who protects us. I had never swum so hard in my life!

Soon, a shoal of fish who are friends passed by. I told them what happened to me. I made a lot of noise. The fish were sympathetic; I could see it in their unblinking eyes. They used their sub-sonic mode of communication to tell me not to worry and relax. They told me to follow them. We came across some really tasty worms and algae near the shore of a beach. The fish ate the worms and I had the algae, very delicious!

Life was quiet for a while. Every day, I swam with my fish friends, enjoyed the sun, as it was not raining these days. We found food when we needed to, and rested among the shrubs. Sometimes, I swam ashore on a moonlit night, and lay down on a faraway beach, away from the nosey human beings. I found I could breathe with my lungs, as I had a half-human form. Although, if truth were to be told, there were not very many mermaids around. Grandma mermaid had died long ago after living for a long time, and after giving birth to my mother. We did not seem to need the male of the species, and I have not seen one, to replicate. It was like some sort of cell replication. My mother did tell me that we were very nearly extinct. There was very few of us left in the oceans of the planet, and that we were divine creatures. I believed her. It would have been nice to have other mermaids but then the creatures of the Ocean, and sea were kind to me, and looked after me well. So, I never felt lonely. Besides, the Ocean was so alive, we had plenty to eat, plenty of sunshine, and lots of water, and we could hide from human beings. What more could anyone want?

But then one day something happened. There was trouble in paradise. I was swimming, leisurely, one morning, just beneath the surface of the deep blue Ocean, when I saw my friends in the fish community holding a quiet meeting. They all looked very grave. I wondered what the matter was. I was curious but I did not want to intrude, so I swam past them. One of them, a blue and gold fish, my close friend, hailed me in her sub-sonic way. I raised my fin. In my noisy way, I asked her what the matter was.

She pointed upwards towards the surface. One of the older grey fish was lying upside down. He was dead. There was something greasy on his body, something oily. I was horrified. It did not look a normal death to me. My fish friend communicated to me that it was an oil spill from a

big ship. What? An oil spill? Soon, the other fish gathered around me, and communicated to me that the human world was as usual creating problems around the planet. “What happened,” I asked. Oh! A huge ship that was transporting oil from one end of the planet to the other, leaked. So there was a huge oil spill in our part of the planet, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Our lives were at stake. One fish communicated that human beings only care about themselves. They do not realize that the planet we inhabit is a treasure to be passed to the next generation. The ecosystem is so fragile!

The fish looked very grave. Soon, we were joined by the blue whale. It communicated to us that his shark friend that saved my life was dead.

The oil spill had choked his lungs, and he could not survive. I was crying. The great predator, which came to my rescue, was no more. All because of these terrible humans. Their greed knows no end. They rape and pillage the planet, and finally, when every species of plant and animal is dead, they will find that there is nothing left to eat. And, they will starve.

The next day found other fishes dying one by one. The blue whale swam across the Ocean to save himself. And why not? So, would we, if we had the strength. The part of the Ocean that we inhabited was becoming a graveyard, rapidly. Several ships ferrying humans came. We could not see the shore that clearly as the oil had darkened the water. But we could

see they were struggling to clear the fast spreading oil slick. Now I could see it, the oil sheen on water. I could also that dead birds were floating on water. It was horrible! It was amazing how this oil that appears to run the human world could destroy our world. The flora, the fauna, just everything worth preserving.

Oh, divine Lord of the Seas, can you not help us? I prayed and prayed. I opened my eyes. I could see some people in the boats were trying to

skim the oil off the water. Some were trying to burn it. Well, at least, they were trying to rectify their mistake, all was not lost. In the

meanwhile, the Ocean smelt of death. Don’t these human beings die of an oil spill? They seemed safe in their clothing and their boats.

These past couple of days, I had to swim far out to get some food. It was tiring. I decided to skip a meal. It was tiring enough to go searching for food one time a day. I managed to find a small beach at night to lie down. The part of the Ocean where I lived was not safe enough. I wondered how long would I last. My friends were dying and life was becoming difficult. Will I die too? In this devastated landscape,

there appeared no hope.

My blue and gold fish friend had survived till yesterday. I went in search of her. There she was! Near the surface of water. I waved my fin at her. She waved back. When I got close, she did look a bit weak. Food was difficult, she communicated. I couldn’t agree with her more and as we were hanging around, exchanging notes, unnoticed by us, an oil slick that had been spreading over the water caught up with us. As I watched in horror, it covered my beautiful, fish friend in no time. We had been careless; we should not have come up here. I tried to push her away. It was hopeless. The greasy oil had covered her body, fins and all. She looked grey now. As I watched, she turned upside down, she was dead. With great sorrow, I turned away. But as I tried to swim away, I found that my fins would not work. I tried hard. When I had been trying to help my friend before her death, some of the oil from her body must have passed on to me. The fast moving oil slick must have spread on to me

too. What do I do now?

I would have to surface, as I could not swim. I could see one particular boat with a human being nearby, other boats had moved away. Oh no! He looked familiar. He was standing, and there was a reddish wound that was healing on his naked leg that was on view. He was the person who had chased me. I held my breath. I would have to surface. Now I was well and truly caught. As I surfaced, he caught sight of me. I

could see the glint of remembrance in his eyes. He stared at me. Then he saw I was in trouble. He pulled me into the boat. He was quite gentle,

unlike the other day, when he wanted to hunt me down. He looked at the oil covering my fins. He took out a bottle of solution from a box and applied it on my fins. Miraculously, the oil dissolved. I could move my fins. It felt so good. He saw me moving my fins and smiled. In fact, the oil dissolved from my body. Wow! I felt clean. I felt him starting the engine.

He drove the boat far out in the deep, blue waters. Then he cut the engine. The waters were quiet here. He lifted me up, smiled and threw me into water. As I hit the clean water, I squeaked loudly in happiness. The human being was smiling. I felt good. I quickly swam away into the deep, blue Ocean. He had forgotten about the shark wound, and helped me. May be, there is some ray of hope for the human race. A tiny drop in the deep, blue Ocean.

--Cjayanthi 07:05, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

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