Half-Stubbed: What a Dead Whale Tells Us About Our Culture

Wispy tendrils of smoke trail
My hand as I move the cigarette.
The beach where I stand is crowded;
More than usual. Hordes have gathered
To witness one last sigh, one deep breath.

The object of all the impassive,
Astringent and keen stares is an
Oceanic mammal. Its piscine body
Struggles in the sand – in limbo
Between land and sea, death and life.

The huge form shudders, heaves
And gasps for air. It lies immobile.
All around it, people nonchalantly breathe
In and out, move around, pointing, staring
At its debilitated state.

I wait patiently for the crowd
To ebb. But death and anguish hold
A peculiar fascination for the living.
More join to watch the spectacle
Of a slow painful end.

Ultimately, I am the one who leaves first.
The only sign I leave behind
Is my half stubbed cigarette –
Its fire burnt out before time; like the
Bryde whale washed up on the beach.

Priyale Chandra, 23, is a freelance journalist and a student of Convergent Journalism at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. She tweets at @PriyaleChandra.