The Monster Geewaha-nalior

I wrote this piece about a sea-monster in 2008 and always liked it. It was aimed at children and those with young minds. I hope you enjoy it. It’s about the right length for a bedtime story too.

The monster Geewaha-nalior cruises the endless blue sea once again.

Long, long years he had slept, resting on a coral beach. His head lay on the sand and his body and tail stretched for miles out into the sea; and as men began to navigate the world, again and again ships crashed into the scales of his back, wrecking themselves.
Indeed, in the the time that some humans called the nineteenth century, by which time Geewaha-nalior had been lying on the beach for several hundred years, smart young men in peculiar hats and tail-coats, with pale skins, came to visit.

The monster was duly measured, identified, surveyed and even named, although, I have to say, completely misunderstood. Soon he was drawn upon the maps that these men made, as a rocky reef, extending far out into the tropical sea from an island, and ships were warned to steer well clear.

Long before that, the first people had come and built wooden huts on his back where it rose above the waves, amongst the coconut palms that also grew there. Men and boys went fishing in long canoes with outriggers and triangular sails, and women and girls foraged through the strip of jungle along the monster’s back for fruits, or along the edge of the water for shells and clams.

Sometimes, if a ship were unfortunate enough to crash into Geewaha-nalior, these people would go out and salvage all that they could; and since this was a reasonably frequent occurrence, there was little that the people wanted for. I am sad to report that they even lured vessels close inshore with lights, in the hope that they would founder; and I am afraid they were far less interested in rescuing the sailors than in plundering the ships.

Geewaha-nalior was aware of all this, but he did not have emotion any more than the wind or the tide, and long had he contentedly slumbered on that beach.
Then one day a great tremor shook the sea-bed and a mighty, terrible wave called a tsunami (though Geewaha-nalior did not know that) thundered through the sea and smashed all that man had made before it.

Such tremors were not, of course, new to the monster, who had known thousands in the aeons of his existence; but all the same it destroyed the huts made of bamboo and swept the chattering people who had so amused Geewaha-nalior to their deaths; and at the same time it stirred him from his slumber.

Geewaha-nalior did not feel sad; like the elements of the earth he was untroubled by emotions. But he missed the clamour of the children, the chattering of the women, the quiet voices of the men as they chatted and sang round fires at night after they came home from fishing.

For almost a thousand years he had dozed on this shore, with his head resting comfortably on the sand, and a thousand years is rather a long time even for a sea-monster.

Although Geewaha-nalior did not feel curiosity, in the sense that we understand it, he did feel the onset of a certain, familiar, restlessness. So he decided to be off, after waiting for a really big tide to help, for it is no easier for a fifteen mile long sea-monster to raise himself out of the comfortable sandy bed he has been lying in for nine hundred and seventy-two years, than it is for you to get up on a winter morning.
Geewaha-nalior gave a mighty, mighty, heave, and with a great, deafening, swishing and gurgling and sucking of water that could be heard many miles away, he lifted himself up and went on his way.

The moment of his parting, as it happens, was registered as an after-shock of the violent tremor that had caused the tsunami some weeks before, for Geewaha-nalior never did anything quickly. But he did not know or care about that. Nor did he care that young men came down to the beach where he had slept for so long and gazed in amazement first at the crystal-blue water that filled a bay where once there had been a great reef stretching miles out into the ocean, and then at their maps, and began chattering and scratching their heads.

Soon the noisy airwaves, that told the world what was happening in it, well, after a fashion, were busy with a new theory about a how a rift fault must have caused a huge section of the sea-bed to simply collapse into itself, obliterating the entire reef. (They ignored the fact, of course, that the self-same reef was then only a few hundred nautical miles away, heading in a generally westward direction. Geewaha-nalior liked to follow the sun.)They even suggested this might have been what happened to Atlantis.

Well, Geewaha-nalior knew all about that, and had anyone asked he would have told them. It was no mystery; he just got restless then too, and perhaps a little tired of the relentless squabbling of the Greeks. But who ever thinks of asking a reef such a thing?

Copyright Rod Fleming 2008

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