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Life of Pi (part 1 chapter 89)

2006-08-22 21:28

  CHAPTER   89

  Everything suffered. Everything became sun-bleached and weather-beaten. The lifeboat, the raft until it was lost, the tarpaulin, the stills, the rain catchers, the plastic bags, the lines, the blankets, the net-all became worn, stretched, slack, cracked, dried, rotted, torn, discoloured. What was orange became whitish orange. What was smooth became rough. What was rough became smooth. What was sharp became blunt. What was whole became tattered. Rubbing fish skins and turtle fat on things, as I did, greasing them a little, made no difference. The salt went on eating everything with its million hungry mouths. As for the sun, it roasted everything. It kept Richard Parker in partial subjugation. It picked skeletons clean and fired them to a gleaming white. It burned off my clothes and would have burned off my skin, dark though it was, had I not protected it beneath blankets and propped-up turtle shells. When the heat was unbearable I took a bucket and poured sea water on myself; sometimes the water was so warm it felt like syrup. The sun also took care of all smells. I don't remember any smells. Or only the smell of the spent hand-flare shells. They smelled like cumin, did I mention that? I don't even remember what Richard Parker smelled like.

  We perished away. It happened slowly, so that I didn't notice it all the time. But I noticed it regularly. We were two emaciated mammals, parched and starving. Richard Parker's fur lost its lustre, and some of it even fell away from his shoulders and haunches. He lost a lot of weight, became a skeleton in an oversized bag of faded fur. I, too, withered away, the moistness sucked out of me, my bones showing plainly through my thin flesh.

  I began to imitate Richard Parker in sleeping an incredible number of hours. It wasn't proper sleep, but a state of semi-consciousness in which daydreams and reality were nearly indistinguishable. I made much use of my dream rag.

  These are the last pages of my diary:

  Today saw a shark bigger than any I've seen till now. A primeval monster twenty feet long. Striped. A tiger shark-very dangerous. Circled us. Feared it would attack. Have survived one tiger; thought I would die at the hands of another. Did not attack. Floated away. Cloudy weather, but nothing.

  No rain. Only morning greyness. Dolphins. Tried to gaff one. Found I could not stand. R.P. weak and ill-tempered. Am so weak, if he attacks I won't be able to defend myself. Simply do not have the energy to blow whistle.

  Calm and burning hot day. Sun beating without mercy. Feel my brains are boiling inside my head. Feel horrid.

  Prostrate body and soul. Will die soon. R.P. breathing but not moving. Will die too. Will not kill me.

  Salvation. An hour of heavy, delicious, beautifal rain. Filled mouth, filled bags and cans, filled body till it could not take another drop. Let myself be soaked to rinse off salt. Crawled over to see R.P. Not reacting. Body curled, tail flat.  Coat clumpy with wetness. Smaller when wet. Bony. Touched him for first time ever. To see if dead. Not. Body still warm. Amazing to touch him. Even in this condition, firm, muscular, alive. Touched him and fur shuddered as if I were a gnat. At length, head half in water stirred. Better to drink than to drown. Better sign still: tail jumped. Threw piece of turtle meat in front of nose. Nothing. At last half rose-to drink. Drank and drank. Ate. Did not rise fully. Spent a good hour licking himself all over. Slept.

  It's no use. Today I die.

  I will die today.

  I die.

  This was my last entry. I went on from there, endured, but without noting it. Do you see these invisible spirals on the imargins of the page? I thought I would run out of paper. It was the pens that ran out.

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