Colours have always eluded me. I never played with all the colour blocks and toys that fill so many kids’ playrooms. I cannot name a cyan or maroon or indigo or magenta or violet. And when a regular health check-up found out that I could not make out the number in the coloured dots (though I can tell you which dots are different coloured – how curious), I was certified with Colour Deficiency (or Disorder; NOT colour blindness, I constantly remind people). I gave up on my half-dream of being a pilot, and took pride instead in being able to request for an examiner to tell me the colours of chemicals during SPA. (Sadly, I never cashed in that privilege.)
But when I saw the deep blue of the Tongan waters today, I decided that it shall be my favourite colour.
Today, blue was the colour of infinity. The sea stretched out towards the horizon, awash with gradations from an artist’s palette – not of dirty blue-greens, but of boundless cobalts of the deep and crystal aquamarines of the shore. The islands we passed by were scenes from postcards. The sun and the wind were the stuff that perfect days are made of.
The blue beneath the surface was no less eternal. We jumped into the water, equipped with neither life jacket nor oxygen tank. When we dipped our heads underwater, we saw nothing – no fish, no corals, no rocks, no limits. Shafts of light pierced through the waters, a cascading and endless thing. The ocean’s vastness cradled us.
Scuba-diving and snorkelling have taught me that another world existed below the sea’s surface. Today made me realise that the ocean harbours not just the richness of a world, but also the emptiness of a galaxy.
So understand how gently and how suddenly the mother and her male calf emerged from the depths below us. Behemoths can be silent after all.
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
– Mary Oliver, Humpbacks