By Al-faidz Omar

It is dark. And cold. And muddy.

I also smell freaking bad.

Carrying the lotus buds like some trophy, I walk slowly towards the beach to wash myself. You see, after getting nearly drowned at your own family’s fishpond, you wouldn’t mind the thought of drowning in the sea or getting attacked by a shark. Both are unlikely to happen, but what do you expect from an eleven-year-old kid who just watched Jaws the other night? Fear overcomes reality, and in some cases fear becomes reality.

There, full moon is bright, the waves calm. It was as if the sea wasn’t moving at all. Stupid Jason, the sea doesn’t move, it’s gravity that makes tides go high and low.

After a while walking in the knee-deep sea, I decide to lie down instead. The water is warmer than usual, but I don’t mind. Then I notice splashes nearby. Curious, I lift my head a little bit, and I see a sea turtle waddling towards the seashore. Afraid that I might scare it away, I keep still and just observe.

It has taken tremendous time and effort waiting for the turtle to the reach the middle of the seashore. My neck is aching terribly after lifting my head for a very long time, all the while keeping my body laid down. The turtle starts to dig, which is kind of cute considering the flappy arms turtles use. The turtle is going to lay her eggs!

The turtle reminds me of the travel my mother and I took when we returned to the Philippines. I’ve read a few science books at school narrating the journey sea turtles take to lay their eggs. My mom wanted me to grow up with Filipino manners, so she brought me to the Philippines from Europe. Then she left me for her to find a job somewhere else, or as in the turtle’s situation, to live her own life.

My mother, after many years overseas, grew accustomed to the city life. She could never stay long in the province, for she was used to things being fast-paced. Even the Philippines’ largest cities bored her after a long time.

I think I’m like my mother. I can’t wait to grow up and leave this village.

But time moves slowly in the province.

The turtle is done laying (or dumping rather) her eggs in the hole she dug earlier. After covering the hole with sand, she returns to the water, swimming to who-knows-where.

I rinse the lotus buds in the sea water and walk towards the covered hole. I start opening the lotus buds and munch on its seeds. The thought of these seeds running out tempts me to have these turtle eggs for a snack.

Anyway, if the eggs hatch, only a few of the baby turtles will survive. On the crawl towards the sea, many of them will be prey to birds circling nearby. When they reach the sea, they might still be eaten by larger fish. Only a few will survive.

The world is a harsh place for turtles, but not only for turtles.

Troubled thoughts rushing through my mind, I dig for the eggs. I take off my shirt and wrap the eggs with it. I leave a lotus stem at the spot as a marker, so I can return to get the remaining eggs. I wrap my arms around them and carry them home, carefully, away from the sea, away from everything else.