CW: mental illness
- title taken from Science girl(@gunsnrosesgirl3) tweet on 25/10/2022
They say that no other whale can hear his 52Hz cries of solitude. The blue whale being heard at 10 – 39Hz; the fin whale being heard at 10Hz; they can all hear one another. No one can hear him. No one has ever seen him. We’ve just heard his elusive calls of soothingly lonely pleas. Some say he could be deaf. Some say there are others just like him; more than just one lonely whale, wallowing in 52Hz solitude. No one really knows, though, but we can still hear him. In the expanse of the ocean, away from the masses of schools of whales, no predators, no preys, no enemies, no friends, no family, no mate; just him, Mr Blue, Mr 52Hz, Blue 52.
Whale J35, also known as Tahlequah, is an Orca that has given birth to three calves now. Her second calf, her middle child, Tali, died almost immediately after being born. J35, in an unprecedented and unexpected display of motherhood and grief (and maternal grief) carried the lifeless body of her offspring for 17 days, across the ocean, until she felt that she had grieved sufficiently. Other maternal orcas in her pack helped her carry the hefty corpse when she tired of carrying the burden of grief.
When sperm whales tire, they commonly sleep for 15-to-20-minute power naps. Usually, they sleep upright (or longitudinally/vertically) with one eye open, usually very close to the surface of the water. This is usually done in their packs and looks somewhat like massive sacs of alien eggs, just waiting to be released. All whales sleep in this manner to keep their guard up, in case any predators attack them, but also because whales cannot breathe underwater.
Whales (despite living in the ocean), cannot breathe underwater. They usually come to the surface of the water every 20-to-90 minutes to breathe. How strange it must be to live in one world and breathe in another.
I lapse, usually every few minutes, into an intrusive thought. I wander, just below the surface of normalcy, to dwell on the intruding theory. I count…till 9…till 12…till 15. I do something elaborate with my fingers. I touch my chest (where my locket used to be), say a silent prayer. I do it once more. I do it thrice more. I come back up to the surface; for air, for sanity, to breathe.
Oh, how strange it is to live in one world and breathe in another.
Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures, but mostly to avoid working on her master's degree. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her writing has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Wigleaf, Passages North, Brittle Paper, Door is a jar and Epoch Press amongst others. She is the Pushcart-nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021). She currently has chapbooks published with The Daily Drunk Mag and Fahmidan Publishing & Co. She rambles annoyingly at Twitter: @ShikshaWrites. You can find (or ignore her) at https://shikshadheda.wixsite.com/writing