Animal Dilemmas – Shrimp Kiwi
The kiwi killed the devil and avenged its mate. It sat on the egg and took very short trips for food, nearly starving in order to keep it warm and protected. But on its way back from on of them a snake had swallowed the egg whole and curled up in the nest. The kiwi jumped on the sleeping snake and poked its eyes out, drilled deeper into its head until the snake stopped moving. The Kiwi split its belly open with its bill and took the egg out.
It was nearly intact except for one little crack but that was enough to kill the undeveloped bird inside. The Kiwi dropped everything and left this unlucky nest that it had searched for and carefully selected in the name of safety. It walked without direction through jungles and planes, giant settlement, roads unconcerned with its own safety. It had survived twenty seasons and given bird to twenty eggs. It had always believed that its success rate was due to its diligence and care in every choice related to its mate and eggs. In every choice in its life. But life proved it incapable to sustain another season. It knew the end would come but it didn’t know it would be that way. It lasts thought it wild just close its eyes one day and never open them. It could live with failure.
The kiwi walked until the edge of the land. It reached the coast in a small tree grove, good and dry, where a colony of its kind was thriving. The colony was loosely kept together but the common shelter and food supply. The Kiwi was not looking for a companionship, it sat on the shore for hours and barely ate.
‘Where are you going,’ asked it passing by kiwis.
‘There is food in the grove,’ said another.
‘You can find a mate here.’
‘No more mates,’ said the Kiwi. ‘I will live under water.’
That was its answer to anything they said: ‘I will live under water.’ And indeed the Kiwi started going into the ocean and spending most of its time in the water. It submerged its head and at first could only keep it under water for a few seconds. It also tried to catch the tiny elusive fish that lived by the shore. For a long time it went hungry. The whole season passed and the baby kiwis from the colony grew and found mated on their own.
The Kiwi kept under water for an hour at a time by then and was a skillful ambush fisher. By the end of the second season on the shore the Kiwi spent months into the ocean staying under water for days. It rode the powerful currents and surfaced at times with no land in sight when the ocean was perfectly quiet and only the moon shone.
It didn’t think about coming back but loosing itself further under the waves. The bottomless ocean was still hard to navigate so the Kiwi always preferred to be near a coral reef where fish of colors was plentiful. It had to fend for its life against see urchins, giant eels, sharks, barracudas and countless other monsters but its worst enemy turned out to be a sworn of shrimp.
The Kiwi liked shrimp clouds because when it swam within them the constant noise and chatter silenced its memories and pains on an absolute level. Nothing else quite got close. The shrimps led a fast life and had fowl tongues. Often other fish or creatures got lost in their numbers but quickly left unable to handle the abusive chatter. It was storm of spiteful language.
‘The hell with this ocean!’
‘The hell with your mother!’
‘She is your mother too, useless idiot!’
‘Screw you both!’
‘I hope you die in a fishermen’s net!’
‘The sharks take you!’
‘The turtles eat your offsprings!’
‘Be gutted like a seahorse!’
‘Monsters eat your eyes!’
‘Be digested live in the stomach of a whale!’
‘Looked at that fat tail!’
‘I prefer skinny tails.’
‘I like them thick on the bottom!’
‘You are not going to live to get any tails!’
The Kiwi was fond of the never ending chatter about doom, ends and tails. But all the negativity took from its energy and it often had to surface to take a breath. The shrimp clouds were usually vast and the Kiwi could dive right back into the swarm. The water surface was boiling with the shrimp and a few times the Kiwi was nearly caught in a fishermen’s net. Many shrimp found their end in that way – as food for the giants.
The Kiwi felt eccentric and unique and almost never thought back about its family or its life on the land. Every time a nostalgic thought crept in it dove deep, found a shrimp cloud and muted its thoughts with the endless chatter.
On one of these dives the shrimp started talking about it for a first time. Their aimless remarks were now aimed at the Kiwi and were as bitter as ever.
‘This bird is a spy, chew its feet off!’
‘It’s out of place and ugly!’
‘The shark take it!’
‘I hope an electric eel fries it alive!’
‘Drug it to the bottom and let the pressure crush its skull!’
‘If we suffer let’s make it suffer!’
‘Kill the bird!’
‘Kill the creature!’
‘Drug it deep so it can run out of air!’
The Kiwi didn’t know what incepted this targeted insults but they indeed raised its heart rate and used up its air. The cloud swirled it round and round until it didn’t know up from down and its eyes were hurting from the turmoil. The shrimp surrounded it closer packed denser and denser and carried it about until it was swallowing water. Luckily the shrimp themselves didn’t know up from down and spat the Kiwi out on the surface without realizing.
The Kiwi floated motionless for some time until the air penetrated back into its head and it came to its senses.
It was time to get back home, it thought.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Animal Dilemmas – Tuesday, June 7th
previous chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Kiwi Tasmanian Devil
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photograph by Stefanus Martanto Setyo Husodo