I gaze out at the mystical and magical sea. She is the Great Lady of Mysteries. A dozen shades of wavy turquoise stretch out before me. They gently tease me to come hither and discover her secrets. I put on my snorkelling gear and walk backwards into the Red Sea. It’s my maiden voyage and yet it feels like I have done this before over a multitude of lifetimes.

I am at the Sinai Peninsula. I remember the ancient biblical tale of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. We cannot know for sure how it happened, where it happened or if it even happened at all. Is the story a myth or a historical account? No one really knows. But one thing that we can be sure of is the existence of the story itself. A story where Moses parted the Red Sea.

I am in Egypt. On the other side of the sea lays Saudi Arabia. I try and recall a world without passports, without borders and without visas. We simply had to make the voyage and do so at our own peril. We did not know what we would find on the other side of the shore, but we still did it. We undertook the journey, not knowing what outcome lay ahead.

I submerge myself in the sea. I must breathe through my mouth while I am in Her realm. I can hear the loud hissing of my own breath in my ear drums. It sounds like the waves of the ocean caressing the shore. I am thankful for the mask that has allowed me the privilege to peer into what would ordinarily lay hidden and dormant.

Once I am allowed a glimpse into what lives beneath Her waters, I feel an inexplicable sense that I am returning to a home that I had lost a long time ago.

The mask allows me to breathe air from above the water’s surface as I discover the mysterious world that exists alongside ours. I meet and greet sea creatures of all kinds. I do not know their names. They are colourful beings who go about their lives as though it were just another day under the sun.

The waters are pristine. The creatures appear undisturbed. This world teems with life, with wonderment, with ancient knowledge and wisdom that seems lost to us all. A whole universe exists under the sea that simply cannot be seen from the surface.

Like a foolish voyager, I keep going and kept swimming. I didn’t want to stop. I longed to see everything that the sea held. All the secrets that She kept from me. I felt so welcomed, so loved and so cradled by her waves that any sense of danger eluded me entirely.

I arrive at a deep and dark blue expanse. Where there was once life, now there was only nothingness. It was dark; devoid of life, devoid of any of the wondrous creatures that I had sighted on my journey here. I feel a hand on my shoulder. I quickly turn around. Although my guide had been following my trail throughout this journey, I had not noticed him at all.

I reemerge from the water and notice how far I am from the shore where I first started. I am almost at Saudi Arabia. Almost.

“No,” my guide says. “We must leave now.”

I realise I am somewhat oblivious to danger, to risk and to peril. All I wanted to do was reach some destination where I had no idea what awaited me. Life on land meandered across my eyes like nothing but a memory. I had lost my sense of self. I had ceased ‘to be’ and simply was.

“Big fish,” the guide says. “Sharks. We must go.”

It may have been my maiden voyage, but there were other travellers who understood these waters far better than I did. They knew that there were areas where we were not welcome. Where there were dangers. Where there were beings more powerful and more potent than ourselves.

My curiosity wanted to know what lay on the other side of the shore, and yet, I knew it was time to turn back. Time to return. I nod and slowly start making my way back. I gaze wistfully at the sea creatures who had allowed me the privilege of their company. I would miss them. I would miss this.

Who knew when I would get the opportunity to meet them again? Who knew when the sea would welcome me back into her arms like an old friend?

I arrive at the shore where I had first started my journey. The secret of the sea was now with me. Her soul and mine were one and the same.

“Till we meet again,” I whisper silently. “I will miss you.”

Posted by:Dipa Sanatani

Publisher | Mith Books | Author of The Little Light and The Merchant of Stories

8 replies on “The Soul of the Sea

  1. Beautifully written. Having grown up on an island country, your descriptions of the sea resonate with me deeply.

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