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“AN APPEAL”

December 7, 2019

A short story resurfaces after nearly 25 years: ‘Reincarnated’ as a Cli-Fi!

The roaring thunder, lashing rains and strong gales that engulfed the Territory were as always labelled a typhoon. Bearing a name in the usual alphabetic order. Not one person in or around heard the invocation of Saa Yue – the great shark spirit, who for thousand of centuries had ruled the South China Sea. Ages before man set foot on the neighbouring lands. Today It was furious and venting out the steam that had been long building up. Here was a specie that they had looked upon very kindly. The human was now turning out to be not only a threat to the Saa Yue or the specie itself – but the entire planet.

The great spirit had witnessed a slow spread and steady multiplication of homo-sapiens along the coastlines. Like any other plant and creature, It philosophised, they too would eventually merge harmoniously in the grand design.

But adapt, It began to realise, was an understatement for this creation. The great one had seen evolution unfold ever since its own arrival. And was amused by the suggestion of marine life going overland and even becoming arboreal. To the arrival of the naked ape! He dressed up in no time. Initially depended largely on the vast expanse of water, for his food. Then discovered cultivation. Made fire. Came back to the sea with means for larger catches. Planks transformed into big and bigger boats. Never till then he dare dare a shark.

And how did the Saa Yue feel about being left out of the Noah’s Ark?

No big deal. We have survived the worst of deluges. We do not even see global warming as any real threat to us!

While the mastery of the waterways brought wars, piracy and worst forms of deceit, it also enabled the great seers and masters to travel to and fro.

We were one of the first to hear profound ideas and divine teachings before they could reach faraway lands. We guarded the vessels in this part of the world. Be it Fa Xian, Xuan Cang or St Francis Xavier and all those names that your world would never know. We were with them when the seas were rough and heavens harsh. Their test was ours.

What did we gain?

They heard with all humility, our confessions and anxieties.

Oh, great souls we prey on smaller creatures, we said.

Ah! They had a very reassuring reply. Ever heard of ‘matsyanyaya’? In short, the big fish eat the small fish. And thou are but a part of such a supreme will.

Thou art a martial class of the oceans. Kshatriya, Samurai, Mandarin – whatever thy may wish to call thyself.

Protect thy territories. Do not attack unless provoked. And do not kill meaninglessly.

The early fishermen set out to fish seeking blessings of Goddess Tin Hau. They worked hard and caught only as much as their needs. We admired the heroism of the hunter and hunted, in The Old Man And The Sea. The sharks were never known for Moby Dick kind of blubber. The greed of human harpoons was, therefore, first aimed at the poor whales.

The march of history took a devious turn. Man made deadlier fishing equipment, bigger ships, longer reach. Stronger armies and more unfortunate wars. The sailing boats were eventually fossil fuelled. Damaging the world around us. All we do after a meal is leave behind oxygen rich crimson red hue. We never came to understand the stealthy submarines. The nylon nets endanger our young and weak ones.

We often wonder – where are the great men who gave us the wisdom.

Is it true that they had become recluses on high mountains? Why?

We do not understand why men push the frontiers of land further and farther into the seas. Dumping rocks and concrete fill. Out pop more and more ‘termite hills. What also baffles is the term land shark! If that is an analogy to any of our 340 types – it is adding insult to injury.

You painted the snouts of your warplanes with our mock look alike. And Peter Benchley tainted us as the man-eater around the Amity Island, in his Universal Studio ‘Epic’. You all say; the only good shark is a dead shark. How ridiculous. You call us by all funny names; jagged toothed one, killing machines, Chondrichthyes et al. You overlook the majestic perfect grace of a shark in natural surroundings. Our bloody pictures outside water indeed look grotesque.

Your portrayal of us as a fierce uncontrolled force has only imprinted deep terror in human souls. More men get killed by your funny motor cars. More men kill men. And more sharks get attacked by men than men by sharks.

Do you think a P.R. firm could do us any good? We would certainly like to get rid of our worse than Godzilla image. Sharkie is a comic attempt, but not good enough. Maybe, something on lines of the Jungle Book or Pocahontas!

You hunt our brethren to go into your supper bowls as shark fin soup. Tell us, how would you feel if you were us. First be hunted. Then smell the putrefied remains of such soup dumped back into the seas. With all that continuous filthy discharge.

Aren’t we all here to live together?

Our martial sense possesses us. Your sight is a provocation to most of our breed. One shark attack and out pop your several beware signs. For every attack you plunge into the cyberspace to explore where and when was the last one reported. Your think tanks tinker hard for reasons. You hire mercenaries to liquidate us.

We share more secrets on your origins than Darwin could ever unravel. We know much more about you than what Cousteau or the likes could fathom about us.

Come on, said the mighty Saa Yue, as It whipped the waters of South China Sea.

From the strong sinuous movements rose big waves, winds and the froth. Enveloping the skies and lands around. And up went the number eight signal.

Give us a chance. We are sure you can survive and flourish without the soup. And prove your masculinity without having to kill us.

Come on, come on … .

Courtesy Dan Bloom@ https://northwardho.blogspot.com/2019/12/an-appeal-short-story-by-praveen-gupta.html

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