His mother’s sister came weeping up the hill. “Come, boy,” she spoke between blubbering sobs. “Live with me, your aunt.” The boy shook his head and refused to come down from the hill. Then his father’s brother came slogging up the hill. “Come boy,” he said through silent tears. “Live with me, your uncle.” But the boy shook his head. Though they continued to plead, he insisted on staying put.
One night, the poor boy’s skin slithered and his body wrangled. They moved in violent opposition in the early stages of divorce. He could no longer stay put. He darted by his aunt’s door, still draped in black mourning silk. He ducked underneath his uncle’s windows, caked with grime. Unseen, he ran far away until he reached the ocean.
The salty air flooded his nostrils. On and on blue stretched out before him and ran into the sky. He dug his feet into the sand. His heels pushed deeper until he hit cold wet sand. Then, he felt it: tears rising up. He screamed and the waves pounded the shore as raucous as his own wailing. He prayed, “Please, dear Ocean, help my aunt and uncle understand why I am here.”
He stayed close to the ocean where skin layers flaked and his body writhed to rhythms of crashing waves. Seven years he stayed, until skin and body married again and then, he returned home. His uncle spotted him out of clean windows. His aunt opened her door and the black silk fell. When they saw their dear nephew all grown into a strong man, they wrapped their arms around him.
“At last! Here you are!” they cried.
“I thought you would be angry with me,” he said.
“No. We had a dream to bring a conch shell to our ear each night. The shell whispered to us why you had to go.”
“Where is this shell? Can I see it?”
“Here it is. It belonged to your parents. They brought it back from their honeymoon before you were born.”
The young man brought it to his ear. Waves crashed. Distant, but clear.
“Do you hear something?” asked the aunt.
“Does the ocean whisper to you?” asked the uncle.
The young man nodded.
“I must leave you again,” he said. “Only this time, I shall come back with my true love who now sits on the ocean shore, where I once was. I will wait as she weeps and when she is ready, I will bring her to meet you.”