Chapter no 39

Life of Pi

I landed with a trampoline-like bounce on the half-unrolled tarpaulin covering a lifeboat forty feet below. It was a miracle I didn’t hurt myself. I lost the life jacket, except for the whistle, which stayed in my hand. The lifeboat had been lowered partway and left to hang. It was leaning out from its davits, swinging in the storm, some twenty feet above the water. I looked up. Two of the men were looking down at me, pointing wildly at the lifeboat and shouting. I didn’t understand what they wanted me to do. I thought they were going to jump in after me. Instead they turned their heads, looked horrified, and this creature appeared in the air, leaping with the grace of a racehorse. The zebra missed the tarpaulin. It was

a male Grant, weighing over five hundred pounds. It landed with a loud crash on the last bench, smashing it and shaking the whole lifeboat. The animal called out. I might have expected the braying of an ass or the neighing of a horse. It was nothing of the sort. It could only be called a burst of barking, a kwa-ha-ha, kwa-ha-ha, kwa-ha-ha put out at the highest pitch of distress. The creature’s lips were widely parted, standing upright and quivering, revealing yellow teeth and dark pink gums. The lifeboat fell through the air and we hit the seething water.

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