The Knowledge of a Koi Carp - Part 2
The Knowledge of a Koi Carp – Part 2
The water is warm and soothing, but I am not wet. It is an odd feeling – like having a bath with so many layers of old, familiar clothes on you cannot feel the clinging wetness over your skin. It is as though I am of the water, without being in the water.
Molly dives keenly toward the deeper water and I find myself compelled to follow, arms outstretched. It is my day to feel like Superman. I am immediately confused by the fact that I am not drowning. Bubbles of air drift from the corner of my mouth like asides. I don’t seem to need to breathe in. It is something to do with Koi Molly. Somehow she is permitted to share her gills with me.
As I follow her, the water remains warm even as we go deeper and rather than getting darker as we descend, the ethereal aqua light becomes brighter, an endless expense of water around us a sky blue. I feel as though the world is upside down and I am headed toward a roaming sun that has hidden itself beneath a shining orange coral reef.
Surrounding us is the chatter of seahorses passing the time of day with one another through delicious sea melodies as they curl and uncurl unhurriedly. They are the most beautiful colours, their tiny faces proud and wise. Spiny, crimson starfish waft on the underwater currents, dipping downwards as though falling toward upturned heavens. Here are the five-pointed signposts nudging me gently toward a world that, despite being unfamiliar, feels comforting and not in the least bit frightening.
A large, old starfish passes slowly in front of my face with a cheery “Kyi Po Tang!” and I smile as I send words through the water without sound. “You too,” I communicate, following the greeting with a slow thunder wave of my hand that causes silver bubbles to cascade in all directions, the starfish tickled into a pirouette by the wake of my movement.
Fish dart and dance and scatter and swoon all around us. Some cluster in rainbow groups boasting all the colours of gobstoppers. Others are slower, older, larger fish that move through the dappled day like ancient buses. I think I see a moody shark far in the distance like a summer storm cloud waiting in the wings. I really want to see a mermaid.
“Come on you,” says Molly as she circles in the water before me. Her voice is kind and calm and I feel happily drowsy; she is sunken treasure opium. Nodding languidly I float forwards following her gently ticking tail and tantalizing bubble trail.
By now we are deep, deep, deep beneath the city. We are unseen beneath the tangled pipes and cables of merciless progress; far below centuries of civilisation and the bony strata of burials. We are moving toward the bed of the sea and yet we can see clear as day down here. Chambers belonging to the heart of the earth sigh wearily as the ventricles fight hard against damage. Molly explains to me that the fish repair the heart of the earth.
Or rather they are supposed to; that was how it was intended.
On my way down through the water I see no other Koi and I am just forming a question when Molly answers me:
“No just me.”
“Why is there only you?” I ask without opening my mouth.
She giggles before answering, a broad smile creasing her gills.
“Because, silly, I am the Koi the Knowledge!”
It isn’t as straight-forward an answer I was expecting but her warm Californian responses bewitch me. I have barely known her an hour and already she has taught me how to swim underwater without the inconvenience of concentrating on breathing.
She has taught me how to communicate without sounding the words and she has given me an insight into the secret life of fish. She does indeed seem to be the Koi of Knowledge and yet I feel these insights are not everything; there is something else she is to teach me.
I feel a deep affection for her and like a diving bell I fall further.
Suddenly the radiance explodes like a supernova – as though we have rounded a corner of the sea (if the sea has corners, they are not obvious; I’m still a learner here) and run headlong into a gang of suns blocking our way. I bring a hand to my brow and squint my eyes to all but narrow letterbox slits as I am blinded. I am hanging suspended head first and it feels as thought the water is thicker here. It is hard to make progress and my limbs feel heavy. The pearlescent glow inking furiously through the water, holds within in it fringes of oily pink, frantic pastel blue and hazy fisheye grey.
I look around for Molly but she has vanished for the first time since I tipped headfirst through the square hole left by the recently removed paving slab. I become disorientated, trying to spin myself upright, a rising sense of panic bursting in my lungs as I struggle like a broken ballerina. I am aware of the pressure of the water on all sides; it as though I am lost inside shapeless dreams… I call out for Molly as loud as my silent mouth can cry…
Where is she?
Where is my Californian Koi of Knowledge?