It was so hot that we all spent most of our time down at the beach, constantly in and out of the water, and it only made sense that we would use that to any advantage we could. Oh, an irate father would eventually come out into the water to catch an errant child, we all knew – but most of the time he would only come out so far, and most fathers could only come out so fast. And none of them could hear what was being said underwater.
This was probably something of a coping mechanism, a bit of catharsis for what ailed you – and at that age much did. You could scream as loudly as you wanted underwater, use any expletive, vent even the vilest of hatred. You could even talk openly of love and desire – there were few things that could relieve teenage hormones better than giving voice to inner longings. Blrrb blrrble blub, a boy would say underwater, and a girl would just look at him quizzically, though perhaps knowingly.
Games are fun but life continues apace, and we did eventually come up with a slightly more urgent form of underwater communication. I was about nine at the time of the landslide, or whatever you’d call it – the day a large section of the reef suddenly collapsed, pinning and eventually killing one boy under a large piece of coral. We were all spread out over a huge area of the bay at the time, maybe a quarter-mile radius; none of us heard his screams, but everyone who was underwater at the time heard the sharp sound of coral against coral, over and over again. It sounded like a thousand knives dropped on a slate floor, like glass towers falling to earth.
Thereafter, the underwater clinking of two rocks together was used as warning of any kind – shark, storm, father. And everyone always listened.
This is part of a series of Himal’s commentary on artwork by Ahmed Suveyb, a selftaughtartist based in Male. Acrylic on canvas, 30x40 in.
Romila Thapar addresses invitees at the
Southasian relaunch of Himal Southasian,
IIC, New Delhi, January 2013.
China, Southasia and India
On May 19 2013, newly appointed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi for a series of meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The visit is Keqiang's first outside of China since assuming power in March.
From our archive:
Purna Basnet discusses Chinese engagement in Nepal vis-a-vis security issues in Tibet and broader geo-strategic plans in Southasia (April 2011).
Fatima Chowdury relates the story of Calcutta's Indian Chinese community through the lens of political and economic upheavals in Southasia and China (May 2009).
Simon Long notes the importance of the Sino-Indian relationship for the rest of Southasia (September 2006).
J.N Dixit ruminates on the strategic concerns of the 'Middle Kingdom' in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear tests (June 1998).