Along the coast of the Grecian Island of Kos, amidst some ancient ruins of fallen columns on an abandoned patio, a young boy with golden hair and blue eyes discovered a strange pink and blue-hued seashell, while returning from a fishing expedition. The pail that he carried was empty. His head wasn’t. So many thoughts flooded his mind. What would his father say for returning empty-handed? What will his mother cook for dinner? ‘Such a miserable fisherman you are. An incompetent wretch!’ the familiar voice of his father scowled within his head. ‘Look at your brothers, how efficient they are. Why are you such a failure?’ the familiar, more caustic, voice of his mother lamented within his head. ‘Aren’t you ashamed of being a total loser?’ the anger-inducing voices of his brothers snickered within his head. Overwhelmed by the mean and insinuating voices in his head, the boy sat on a rock near the sea and focused on the colors on the seashell, that he held in his opened palms. ‘Put it to your ears and hear the sound of the sea’ the voice of his long-dead grandmother, the only loving voice, said in his head. A mere memory from a distant past. The boy put the shell to his ears, hoping to hear the sea. There it was, the sound of the tides thrashing against the rocky coast. Into the deep blue, the boy imagined himself to dive, forgetting all his worries for a moment.
Brightly colored fishes danced around him. Moss covered crabs did salsa along the sea bed. Wavy red, yellow and dark green weeds swirled around him. Clam shells along the sea bed clapped and clapped. A glorious song from a humpback whale in a distant sea outshone any angels playing on harps in the heavens even farther above. Amidst this myriad of music and dance underwater, a single, haunting, the most angelic voice he ever heard, emanated from behind a rock. Entranced and brought to tears by the beautiful voice, the boy swam toward the rock to identify the source. Behind this rock sat a girl with wavy bright green hair, pale skin, bright blue eyes and seaweed for robes. As she sang, her gaze fell upon him. The boy hid behind the rock in fear. But her gaze emitted kindness, which created in him a feeling of trust and comfort. A feeling of ‘home.’ Slowly, but growing in confidence, the boy moved closer to the girl, as the girl moved twice as fast, closer to him. She had stopped singing, he noticed very late, for her gaze was now singing to his heart. ‘Do not be afraid’ she said.
‘Do not be afraid. Do not be sad. Do not think of anything that makes you feel bad. Think of all things good, as one must always should. Life is great, if you think it so. Life is bad, if you think it so. What you think of it, that it becomes. For the universe is very obedient. It gives you the picture you want to see.’
Her gaze fell on his hand. The boy looked down and saw his empty pail. How did it appear in his hand, he didn’t know. He looked back at the girl. ‘Don’t you worry! You did your best,’ said the girl,
‘You are not a failure. You did all that you could. Tomorrow you will succeed.’
‘But my parents…my brothers…what will they think of me?’ asked the boy.
‘They will think of you, what they choose to think of you. You will become only what you think of yourself. You can’t change their thoughts. Their words, however, can change you…but only if you let it…’
The boy closed his eyes and contemplated for a moment as to what the sea siren said to him. He opened it a moment later, eager to thank the siren having understood what she meant. But he found himself no longer underwater, but on a rock along the coast, with the sea shell in his hand.
‘Was I really there? Is this a portal to another world? A world where music and kindness is everywhere?’ he wondered. He wanted to be with the siren, who offered nothing but positivity to him in those few moments. ‘How a life full of kindness from her would feel like?’ he wondered. The sea shell is his link to the sweet voiced girl he thought. ‘I must cherish and protect this shell with the siren forever!’ he decided.
At that time, a sea gull swooped down from the sky and knocked the shell from his hand. The shell fell down into the sea, hitting a rock in the sea bed and breaking into a million pieces.
“Oh no! How could this happen? What miserable fortune! Why does misfortune follow me everywhere I go? This is terrible!” he yelled, staring at the sea below.
‘Do not distress. You still have me…you will always have me…if you choose to…’ the siren’s voice was heard by the boy.
“Wha-what? Where is that voice coming from? Where are you sweet siren?” asked the boy, looking all around him in desperation.
‘I was never in the sea shell. I am inside you’ said the siren.
“What sorcery is this? How did you get into me?”
‘I am inside you…as I’ve always been…’
“Always? But how? Why didn’t I discover you till now?” asked the boy.
‘You didn’t find me because you were too afraid to see behind the rock till now. I’ve always been singing to your heart. But you chose only to listen to the noises and howls around you. The howls of insult, insinuation, condemnation and belittlement!’ said the siren, ‘Not my song of comfort, consolation, encouragement and support.’
“Then how did I find you today?” asked the boy.
‘That’s because you just couldn’t bear to hear the howls anymore. You didn’t want to hear them and they disappeared, making my song audible to you. You heard my song because you finally allowed it be heard…’
The boy sat back down and meditated on what his mind said to him.
‘You will hear only what you allow to be heard. My song will always exist. But till you allow it to be heard, the noises and howls will drown it. Choose the song of the siren, over the howls of the universe.’
The boy understood. A smile appeared on his face. He took a deep breath and allowed the siren to sing to his heart forever. Life was going to be good.
-A. Prashanth Narasimhan (Sri Vishnudasan).