The whale and the boy – a short character print
The first time I saw a whale I was ten years old.
I was bathing alone while my mother was laying on a cloth on the shore.
My father at that time was already gone with the one that in the future I would have known as “your new mummy”. On my side I was still struggling with my body and my unexpected limits.
The whale I’m talking about wasn’t a whale for me at the beginning. It was more like a black shape in the distance. Something you would call “a monster-ish shapy thing” if you were the same age I was that day.
I remember I got so scared I thought I was going to die there. Swallowed by this huge black monster.
What stopped me from screaming, clapping on water and panic and maybe sink, was the cry the monster did.
It was a long and grieveful sound. It froze me. Made me feel a sadness I never had before. Making a footprint of blue and feeling bigger than myself.
So I stand there, holding my breath. Keeping my head under the water as long as possible to stare at this black mass that was moving toward me. Out of a sudden it seemed to me as it was looking for sympathy, not for a good gulp of ten year old fat boy anymore.
When I realized it was a whale the creature swimming toward me it didn’t make a difference. To me it was nor a monster nor an animal. Just a creature suffering and looking for contact and solace from its pain.
It reached my bare foot and touched me. It was a strong and delicate touch. Something I would have never forget. Like the gentle push a truck would do braking just in time before you, standing in the way. I remember I thought how could the whale see me since its eyes were not in sight. Then another low and long scream told me it wasn’t important.
I rubbed my feet against it, then dove under the water and put my hands over its thick skin.
It has been a short and clumsy embrace. Still something that changed me forever. The footprint its first cry left on me get solid under the pressure of the embrace. Like a fossil, it became something ancient and relevant. Something that became part of the fabric of my soul.
I still feel the embrace of the whale. I still feel the fossil part of my soul beating against my chest. I feel it even today that my life is on has turned toward a different path.