When I was a very young toddler, at around four to five years of age, my dad would usually take the family out for picnics at the beach, and we would usually stay there till late at night, to enjoy the breeze drifting by from inland.
We were there again one uneventful evening, dad, mum and I. The family had finished a wonderful roast turkey dinner (bought from a nearby supermarket), and was taking a leisurely stroll down the seaside. I could see distant lights out at sea, shining from countless vessels and tankers moored in the deep water. The kind wind flowed through my hair, blowing past my scalp, carressing my skin, and massaging my senses.
I felt a tap on my shoulder, and looked up at my dad. He was looking down, beaming at me. I smiled back, and saw him bring up a finger to his lips. In the same motion, he stuck out that finger to point at something up ahead. My gaze followed the indication, and peered at the dimly-lit surroundings before me.
At first, all I could see was the sand meeting with the rising and falling waves. Upon closer observation, I made out a short, rounded figure shifting around in the ground. Curious, I approached it carefully, my parents in my wake.
The figure began to take further definition and detail as I closed in. It had four flat legs, a cylindrical head, and a stumpy tail, all surrounding a dome-shaped shell. I was astounded. A real-life turtle, just like in the storybooks!
The animal was definitely aware of my presence, but it did not look to mind me coming over. It just sat there, being the silent reptile it was supposed to be, merrily minding its own business.
I patted its shell when I got close enough to it, which felt hard as rock and moist from the water. The turtle’s head withdrew into its shell apprehensively at my touch, but then relaxed when it felt I was not causing it harm. It even seemed to be enjoying it.
Dad tapped my shoulder again, this time asking me to look at the turtle’s rear. I duck-walked over eagerly. What I saw next was intriguing. It had dug a shallow hole in the sand, and was depositing numerous off-white, spherical eggs into it. The turtle was laying.
“Look dear,” mum whispered to me, from beside the turtle’s head. “The turtle’s crying.”
So it was. Fresh tears were flowing freely from its glossy eyes. I was even more amazed.
“It is because it is laying eggs?” I asked. Mum gave me a “could-be” look and half-nodded. I thought seriously for a few seconds, before asking her another question.
“So did you cry when you were giving birth to me, too?”
Mum raised her eyebrows in surprise. She looked up at dad, who smiled and shrugged.
“Well… Of course I did. That experience was painful,” Mum replied frankly.
“But… The more important reason I cried, was because I had given life to somebody I know will grow up to be just like me,” she added with a warm grin. I grinned back. I liked the way that sounded, and could still remember it till this day.
Mum and dad cried the day I was born, bacause they knew they now had someone to be proud of, someone they could love, someone they would cherish for the rest of their lives. I felt lucky to have such caring and loving parents like them, and made sure I was going to do the same when my time comes.
The eggs stopped dropping, and the turtle used its hind legs to cover up the hole. The three of us watched as the animal slowly made its way back to sea. Tears were still dribbling profusely from its eyes.