Ali had been sailing the waters of the Bay of Bengal ever since he was a kid. He had sailed in storms, rain, sun and snow. Well not snow of course, but all the rest. Yet, there was something about today that made Ali uneasy. The sea was impossibly calm, not even a ripple on the surface. It was as if the sea had died. The sky was clear but Ali’s trained eyes could see clouds approaching in the distance. Soon they would crowd the horizon, turning the sky into a sick grey and the sea into an even sicker grey. Ali hated clouds. Storms he could deal with, in fact when he was a younger man he liked trying to tame a wild sea. It made him feel like a God. However, in his age he had gained more perspective and now all Ali wished for were clear skies and sun all day. In all of Ali’s years as a fisherman he had never felt so uncomfortable about going into sea. Suddenly he remembered his father’s story about the giant beast that lived in these waters. His father called it a ‘ghalzop’. The ghalzop was an ancient creature that lived from the times of the Gods and would only rise to bring apocalypse. No one knew what the ghalzop looked like but the way Ali’s father had described it to him it seemed like something of a cross between a shark and an octopus. Of course Ali was too smart to really believe in the tale. It was in all probability a story to keep the kids away from the water. Because in all of Ali’s years at sea he had never even seen any sign of the existence of such a monster. However today, almost forty years later when Ali remembered the story it sent shivers up his spine. Somehow he had always imagined that if a monster were to rise from the sea it would always rise against a cloudy sky and the sea would roil under the weight and fury of the beast. Suddenly a seagull swooped into the water trying to catch a fish. Ali looked intently at the ripples caused by the effortless contact with the water. However the seagull didn’t fly off with the fish as Ali had seen seagulls do for longer than he cared to remember. This seagull suddenly went into the water and didn’t rise. The water settled where the seagull had gone under. Ali was now almost suddenly sure that the ghalzop had risen and was feasting to gain strength before it brought destruction to the world. The silence that surrounded Ali was almost oppressive. The sun was already beginning to hide behind a few clouds, the golden rays all but disappearing from the water. The blue of the sea, bluer than robin’s eggs began to lose its colour. Ali could feel the moment arrive. A buzzing fly sat on Ali’s cheek and he just swatted at it half-heartedly. He kept on staring at a fixed point in the water, almost willing the beast to rise. The sky was now completely overcast by clouds. The sea was completely motionless. The scene was set just as Ali had envisioned it as a kid sitting on his father’s lap hanging on to a fisherman’s tale. His expectant eyes widened, half expecting a deafening roar. Was it an illusion or did Ali see a shadow move underneath the water? Slight ripples did begin to appear on the surface of the water. Ali took a few steps back from the shore.
Every instinct in his body urged him to flee, to not confront the worst nightmarish abomination of his childhood imagination. Yet some iota of curiosity that remained in his body kept him rooted to the spot, fixating him on the point where the water had visibly begun to roil. Suddenly an upturned boat appeared on the surface, visibly scarred and damaged. It must have lain at the bottom of the sea for years. This was never a good sign and Ali took it for granted that the beast was just about to rise. All his unnatural fears began to roil to the surface much as he imagined the ghalzop to be doing so at the very same time. Ali closed his eyes and in the peculiar still day felt a bead of sweat roll down his cheek. Ali was prepared for what was coming. When he opened his eyes he saw that the sun had come out. A fisherman stood next to him excitedly calling out to him about some fishing boat that had met with a freak accident while it was out at sea. Ali looked anxiously at the horizon where the waves formed to rush towards the shore. Everything was alright. For now.
Sketch By: Anshul Dora