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My Life at Sea

By Robert Matano  (Kenya)


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For nine months, I have been marooned in the Indian
Ocean, monitoring the sounds of whales. I am
accustomed to hearing the soft whir of the wind as it
seeps in through the cabin’s windows accompanied by a
short throbbing sound; but today when I opened my eyes,
this morning I heard a loud beeping noise, somewhat
familiar, yet different from before, more urgent.
Running my hand through my short, curly hair, I
decided I’d better get up.

It must be the same whales, I figure. After getting
up, I stretch my arms and legs to relieve the tension
in my lower back, and a tiny wave rocks me from side
to side. First things first, I peruse around the boat
as I checked the anchor for safety. It is secure as
ever. Immediately afterwards, I enter the small
kitchen, make a fresh cup of tea to start my morning
off right.

The tiny waves are now hitting and rocking the boat
harder. There must be a storm brewing somewhere, I
sighed. I almost choke on my tea as the rocking
increased and I pondered, ‘Something isn’t right!’

One of the two whales is now closer to the surface and
I can almost sense it touching the underside of my
boat. Is it the one causing the ripples?

The sonar stopped blinking and so did the rocking and I
settled myself into my favorite position on the deck—
legs, folded together like a monk deep in meditation
or, like a Moslem having his meal on a rug on the
floor— and I continue sipping at my tea.
A soft breeze washed over my face in languorous curls
and I felt a suctioning effect from under and above
me. Accompanying it is a soft hum and a buzz, I
turned my head this way and that, and I raised the
frequency of my ear a notch higher as the buzzing
increased and I stood up. The sounds now came to me
in a dull, echoing rumble and the sonar now blinked
long and hard.

I am roused by a heavy jolt. The side of my boat has
been hit by something and I now moved to the centre of
it. I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my
veins as fear encompassed me like a dark veil and I
whimpered. My small whines increased into a loud cry as
the bumping and movements increased, but none can hear

For the past few days I have been feeling these
strange bumps around me, an increasing pressure
surrounding my head and hot air coming to me in small
hugs. Today the hugs are coming more frequently and
growing stronger. Suddenly, a strong pressure from
under me bowls me over and I am blown out into sea and
into the cold atmosphere with a popping sound and I let
out a wail as my arms and legs began flailing, and my anchor
rope was cut loose.

My distress is short lived as I land on a warm, soft
surface gently rising and falling beneath me.

“It’s a girl, Mrs. Mboya, A beautiful baby girl.” A
soft voice says.

“So I’m a girl!” I exclaimed inwardly and I let out a
wail as I felt a pinch behind my left thigh and I
struggled to open my eyes to no avail. Some strange
voices were now saying. ‘Congratulations Mr. and Mrs.

“she looks just like you Mr. Mboya.”

The familiar whale’s softer voice now whispers close
to my face, ‘Shhh baby, welcome to the world.’ And I
feel her lips on my forehead.

She now hugs me closer to her chest and rocks me
gently. My wails are short lived as something warm,
soft and round touches my lips and I begin to suck on
it, now enjoying the sweet soothing sensation going
down my throat.



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