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Oceans are restless

 

Cherai Beach, Kochi

The beach is one of the loveliest places on earth. I can spend hours sitting on the sand and looking at the restless sea. The waves. What are they hungry for? They never rest. You can watch a wave coming from far away in the sea and moving relentlessly, on and on, until it lashes against the shore and returns. And returns. It is an endless process. A process that started somewhere beyond the reach of your vision. Your vision ends where they call the horizon. But you know that the horizon is not the end. It is the beginning, in fact, the beginning of another world.

Another world from where Vasco da Gama was carried by the restless waves to Kerala many centuries ago carrying the Portuguese colonial power in a few ships. The tang of pepper and cinnamon on the beaches of Calicut beckoned Vasco and his crew like the sirens on the enchanted island of Odyssey. Vasco came, Vasco saw, Vasco conquered. The legacy left by him five centuries ago has survived to this day in Kerala.

The seas have carried colonial powers all over the world. Christopher Columbus was one of the many carriers of that power. His legacy was far more brutal than Vasco da Gama’s. Other people existed only for gratifying his appetites, Columbus thought. He could just take a woman from an island and give her to  his crew members for sex. He cut off a man’s ears merely to shock the other people of the island into submission. Columbus was a mass murderer. He killed those who refused to submit themselves to his power. He was a tyrant and a scoundrel. His legacy has continued to govern the United States of America to this day. They call it civilisation.

Such is the hunger of the oceans. It is a human hunger. Or is it inhuman?

I live in Kerala which has a 600-kilometre-long coastline. So many civilisations entered Kerala along that coastline at various junctures of history: Dutch, French, Arab, and even the ancient Roman. Legend has it that Thomas, disciple of Jesus, landed in Kerala along with traders in the first century CE. It is true that the Roman Empire had trade relations with South India from the time of Augustus Caesar (c 40 BCE). The Roman aristocracy loved the exotic things of the East. Pliny the Elder ridiculed Emperor Nero for burning more perfumes on the single day of the funeral of his queen Poppaea than what Arabia could produce in a whole year. The fountains of the affluent Romans flowed with rosewater. All those perfumes, spices and condiments were carried across the oceans.

The British Empire came across the oceans too. Carrying the white man’s burden. Another hunger of the oceans.

Sitting on the golden sands by the Arabian Ocean, I can see the shadows of alien ships beyond the grey horizon and its scarlet twilight.

The ships have become shadows. But the restlessness of the seas continues. Only, now the restlessness comes from a landlocked city. And the war cries are indigenous. They don’t belong to alien ships.

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Comments

  1. When I read this question in the second line of this post: "What are they hungry for?" I mistook it for the hunger of nature. By the end of the post I stand corrected.
    Fantastic post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The beach is a good place for contemplation. Nature's hunger metamorphoses...

      Delete
  2. You're lucky to live in Kerala.
    The restless ocean is a fascinating subject and you have done justice to it.
    As you put it so succintly, ' You can watch a wave coming from far away in the sea and moving relentlessly, on and on, until it lashes against the shore and returns. And returns.'

    ReplyDelete
  3. I first thought it is a simple post on ocean and waves and wondered how come !?
    Then as I read through got ur msg. the war cries are indigenous. They don’t belong to alien ships. -- Wonderfully concluded

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I didn't have to go into the war cries of the waves and could stick to the obvious charms of the waves.

      Delete
  4. You have beautifully rendered your spontaneous thoughts. Enjoyed every line.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never been to deep seas. But have heard my brother who often has to be on oil barges that sea is calm as long as it is. And when it decides otherwise nothing can stop it in its way, nothing has chance to withstand its fury. I wonder if it is this thread of similarity that ties the oceans and the deepest desires of man's heart, together.
    -Anagha Yatin
    https://canvaswithrainbow.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sea has infinite moods. Like human emotions and cravings.

      Delete
  6. Hari OM
    To sit by the ocean is to be humbled by its power - and to discover that it laps all of history into its folds. Just as the waves seperate then return to the whole, so do all our tales... and sometimes there are storms. YAM xx
    O=Orb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. The sea has much to offer. Some of it is intimidating too.

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  7. This post was a revelation in many ways. So many things out there that I was unaware of. I love the waters too. Even the mountains. Both leave me feeling miniscule, a mere speck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was more I wanted to add but restrained myself.

      Delete
  8. The ocean truly is endless and has so many mysteries. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Whenever I sit at beach, this question always cross my mind, why waves are never tired of returning? The infinite ocean and endless mysteries locked in it.
    Interesting post - civilisations, columbus and correlation of crazy waves and crazier humans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The waves cannot afford to retire. They are like human civilisations.

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  10. I have been to Cherai as a child and there's nothing more beautiful

    ReplyDelete

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