Beypore is a fishing port on the outskirts of Kozhikode town, Kerala. Early in the morning, fishers head out to the deep sea in search of fish. They reel in their catch a few hours later, which is sorted and sent to the markets.
I was at the port early one morning photographing the boats. Bathed in the warm early light, it was ideal for photography.
Wandering about, I saw a crab shoot out from a rock crevice. These funny creatures were coming out to feed as the tide was receding.
I decided to watch their antics for a while. Sitting down, I observed them search for algae or fungi to gorge on.
Then, one crab caught my eye. It was dead still. It didn’t even flinch when the predatory Brahminy Kites flew over.
Intrigued, I stepped closer, wondering if it was just a hollow exoskeleton. Crab shells do not expand as the crab grows, so they are regularly shed. These exoskeletons are castaways, a ghostly reminder of what the crab used to look like. (Read about it here)
But this was a live crab. So why wasn’t it scuttling away?
I soon realised that the crab was midway through the shedding process. That is why it couldn’t move; once started, the crab must completely shed.
It is a slow process during which the crab is highly vulnerable. I saw the crab’s eyes grow pale as a lilac mass emerged from its posterior. The entire process unfolded before my eyes, a spectacle of the natural world.
The shedding process is synonymous with our lives. Often, we must discard past selves if we are to grow. We must break out of our shells if we are to engage with this world.
In life’s fast-paced continuum, we are forever evolving, severing links with previous identities. Rare is the person who remains the same throughout his or her lifetime.
As soon as he was out, he turned away and bustled into the oncoming surf. The tide swallowed the castaway shell, bouncing it around in the sea of bubbles. Content, I left the scene, glad about what I had witnessed.
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