I watched Life of Pi with my family about two weeks back. And when the image on the left appeared on screen, I could hardly contain my excitement. I remembered that I’d written about the Lakshadweep incident somewhere, and at the time it had felt almost surreal, but words couldn’t describe what I saw. And thus I hadn’t mentioned it to many people. But here it was.
We didn’t have our cameras with us that evening – Anne and I, we were not supposed to be on the boat. We were sulking at home a little earlier – when Rohan, Teresa, Rucha, Amod and Vardhan were putting their dive equipment together. Anne and I had got our diver certificates just a month back, and couldn’t dive deeper than 18 meters with our basic certification. All the others were advance-level divers, some having decades of dive experience. The preparations were on for a night dive, but Anne and I weren’t qualified enough to join the rest, and were pretty peeved. But we did end up on the boat with others that evening, having decided that we would sulk some more in the dark while the rest were on their precious night dive.
Underwater torches were tested, chaperones were assigned and divers plopped into water from the boat over the reef. There still was feeble light in the horizon and we saw beams of torch light crisscrossing downwards as people descended. The beams soon got polarized several feet below and disappeared in one direction. I think it was Anne who suggested that we take a dip, and by the time we put on our snorkels and fins, it was pitch dark. We could only hear Shaafi’s voice as he asked us not to drift too far from the boat, and we jumped in.
I remember having seen plankton luminescence before – in the open sea between Agatti and Kadmat islands, when I saw sparks in the wake of the boat by which we were travelling. I was initially scared that there was some neural short-circuit happening in my eyes, before Anne explained what it actually was. But it was quite different now as we finned in the water, and the sight was unbelievable. Each of our movements in the dark water was followed by a trail of luminescence, which would disappear soon after. The more we moved in the water, the brighter was the illumination. As we paddled with our fins, our legs created the brightest sparks. When we swam we left behind glistening Tinker bell trails. Anne and I were soon giggling and yelping, wriggling all over to create neon outlines of ourselves. We were slapping the water surface with our hands, kicking with our feet, duck diving and creating symmetric arcs in the water column as we moved towards each other and surfaced with a gasp.
It is one of the happiest memories I have of Lakshadweep. While the rest of the divers were gushing on about how amazing their night dive was on our boat ride back, I couldn’t care less. We had our own glowing little secret.