Narrative 2: When I blow too much

2 months ago Shaili Desai 2

I was born ugly. I know I will never be beautiful, no matter how hard I try. I think it’s because of my bulging eyes and this ridiculous snout that each member in my family has been cursed with, since time millennia. Instead of limbs, I have these organs which faintly resemble paddles – although it’s cruel how they are short in comparison to the rest of my body.

I have always had a problem with my looks. It all started when I was a kid. I would run away from my school often and venture into unknown neighbourhoods. It didn’t help when the kids in the others schools bullied and ragged me. They would provoke me and wait for my body to puff up in anger. And then they would laugh at me.

So yes, I have never been beautiful. However, I have often been called ‘cute’. I was happy when that old gal said I was a cute little bugger. There’s a place near home where I go for a swim every morning. It’s peaceful and quiet and helps me plan my entire day. I blushed a deep, unsightly brown, instead of pink. I don’t think it’s possible for me to be any other colour. I even blush ugly. But yes, my morning swim had never been better! Sweet, beautiful Era (that was her name), how she made me feel!

My excitement was short lived though. Later, I realised that I shouldn’t take that as a compliment. Cute was just another word for ugly but acceptable, as Louis often said. People would bully Louis too, but he always took it in stride. I think it was because he had spent a month with a school in Japan. They were Buddhist and seemed to know how to keep calm and swim on.

Before you lose it (because you are probably a millennial with ADHD), let me tell you my name and who I am. I was named Peter Tetraodontidae at birth, though lately they have started calling me a crazy old fool. I am a puffer fish with an existential crisis and Louis was my brother from another mother.

Before you start with the blow fish jokes, let me warn you, though. You do not have the right. If your human mind were intelligent enough, you’d have prevented all those wars and solved all your problems instead of making more. That guy who made a joke about Louis and what a fat fish he must have been in life – well, let’s just say he had a tragic end. You can only laugh at the irony – not everyday does a man make a joke about the food on his table and drop dead. I think he deserved it, the body shaming idiot. And I am proud of my brother. He went down like a boss. I am not sure about nepotism, but tetrodotoxin rocks.

So yes, people have started calling me a crazy old fool.

Why is that, you’d ask? Lately, I have begun to question my purpose in life. Now let me tell you, for all the bullying and ragging that I faced while growing up – I have led a sheltered life. My poor dad always took good care of me and stayed in a good school. I have been swimming around in the same section of the sea since I was born and never had the desire to move out.

And it’s all because Louis made me watch Game of Thrones. It was fascinating at first – the land which you dwell upon, it equals my waters in its pristine savagery. Your castles are beautiful, like my coral reef.

But, I did not understand why some of you were fighting – such a waste of time that is, forging an army only to get it killed. Making weapons, only to lose them in war. Training horses for battle, only to see those magnificent animals die for you. I could understand that some of you were fighting for survival – that is the law of nature but the others, I just couldn’t fathom. Some of you seemed to have bandied together for some Lord of the Light and some of you for honour and revenge.

I cried when I saw Tyrion Lannister spill wildfire on Stannis Baratheon’s ships as he approached Kings Landing. The water shone a bright hallucinogenic green. I thought of the poor fishes underneath the water. And then Euron Greyjoy set all the ships on fire and threw the dead into the water – along with their bloody guts. That arse polluted our waters; my kin probably didn’t know what hit them. Was it debris from a sinking ship, perhaps a mast? Let me tell you, there’s nothing romantic about a sinking ship, except in Titanic. Was it a leg, or a piece of somebody’s liver? Or was it a heart, still beating ghostly while the soul moved on? I imagine the oil from the ship hugging them like phlegm. I can imagine them grasping for breath as their lives went back and forth – like a pendulum.

I think of my life here in this vast ocean. I can see it – my past life – like a movie projected on to the giant waves, with the wind contributing to the background score. It sounds beautiful and theatrical, but I can also see myself merely existing. It has been simple but now, it’s just not enough. What a tragedy that I have realised this when I am too old to do anything about it! I wish I had travelled more. Perhaps I could have done something about the devastation of marine habitats. Now, I wait for my death – I spend some nights imagining how I would die. Would it be a fast death, the one where I struggle to breathe as a layer of oil spreads above the water? Or would I die a slow death – be poisoned through years of chemical waste being pushed into my home?

I try not to think about you, humans. Our oceanic grapevine had predicted long ago that you’d all die, killing each other in your useless wars. Valar Morghulis – All men must die, echoed Game of Thrones too. Maybe that will happen, maybe it won’t. All I know is that I am a crazy old fool and my Louis is dead.

Written by Shaili Desai. The Narrative Series contains short stories and narratives from different points of view.