I used to find myself drawn towards the ocean and her charms. The crackling of waves. The distant chatter of fishermen. And the frothing of her tides. The ocean often had me entranced.
I was fascinated with aquatic life-forms back then. It thrilled me to find them near ocean-beds. But most were dead by the time I stumbled upon them. Yet I have caught myself staring their corpses, feeling exhilarated about life.
Especially the one time I saw the carcass of a Moray Eel. She seemed so peaceful; lifeless yet so full of possibilities. She seemed to have chunks of flesh bitten off her sides. It was clear that she had been in battles, and lived long enough to tell her tale.
She was rotting. The stench of decaying flesh was in the air too.
I assure you though, she looked beautiful.
It is unfortunate that our brain often perceives beauty based on superficial factors. As philosopher Edmund Burke wrote – “we must conclude that beauty is, for the greater part, some quality in bodies, acting mechanically upon the human mind by the intervention of the senses.”
Perhaps it is why most pop culture icons have had symmetrical faces.
Ugliness though is easily recognizable. And it doesn’t exist in a physical form.
I once saw a pair of Jellyfishes washed up ashore. They took my breath away because I hadn’t seen one before. The way the morning light poeticized their lifeless translucent bodies. The gentle trickling of waves – a seminal soundtrack for the occasion.
Unfortunately there were bits and pieces of plastic and netted material strewn all over. Proof that those jellyfishes had no business dying that day.
A sad reminder that ugliness is after all a matter of the soul.
(Photographs – Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Mudialarkuppam, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry)