The first day, the Caspian sea was like “a swimming pool”, as my mother constantly remarked; a silvery light blue, ruffled gently by baby waves. “These are boring” we cried, and we hated the little darting fish and the floating seaweed. We wanted the big waves, which would drive the fish and seaweed away. Big waves are better sport for us sea-lovers.
The next days we had proper waves though, big dark grey ones rising above our heads and smashing down over us, pulling us under before we came gasping, spluttering out. This was what we wanted, and we rode and dove, but the waves had a curious seaward pull unlike any I remembered from previous years, so that even if we let ourselves float for a second, we would find ourselves pulled inside, our feet no longer touching the sea bed. We made a pact that if anybody started drowning, nobody would go to save them, because of all the horror stories we had heard about entire families wiped out, drowning one after another within seconds as they futilely swam after each other inside the sea.
The Golden Boy first screamed and splashed like any nine-year old boy but then a sudden change came over him. He literally and not metaphorically seemed to change into a seal, his body became glistening and smooth, his eyes behind the grey goggles became opaque and animalistic and he silently curved his body around the big warm waves. We all had to grab at him constantly and he slipped out of our clutches and kept curling silently over and beneath the waves, not uttering a sound. Are you a seal I asked? No I’m a penguin he answered before plunging again. I screamed and grabbed his wet t-shirt as tightly as I could, because I knew the pact didn’t apply to him.