Suddenly one day Amaru was called by the sea. It was just a feeling in the air, not quite a sound--or perhaps it was a sound, very complex, almost inaudible. Amaru put down the book he was reading and sniffed the air, listening with his nose.
He had been rather down in spirits of late. His Auntie Pushpa had just last week passed away, while haranguing Leela in the kitchen, in mid-sentence. Long-suffering Leela, far from rejoicing in her newfound release from constant haranguing, was inconsolable, and Amaru out of compassion had taken her into his meagre household.
Since that day, Amaru had reflected on his situation. Having lost his beloved stepmother at an early age, then later his much-loved grandfather, he had now lost Auntie Pushpa. He had no one left who really cared about him. He felt rootless, sad, and without purpose. He didn’t know what to do with himself. Leela’s presence made it worse: when he saw her he expected to see Auntie right behind, berating her; but instead, there was nothing but silence.
Until today, when the Sound began. For some reason, Amaru associated it with the sea. A sort of sea sound, or sea song. Amaru decided to follow it, since he had nothing better to do. Perhaps he should go to the edge of the water and just keep walking.
He had Leela pack him some supper and then he set off. It took several hours to get to the village near the sea where he had found the Blue Stone so many years ago. He chuckled sadly at his foolishness. Well, there would be no Blue Stone this time.
When he reached the village, it was nearly dark. There were cooking smells and sounds of scolding and laughter. Many of the children were still running about. He noticed that the villagers had decorated their cottages with large, red, dried starfish. Almost every house had at least one nailed to the wall, and some houses were festooned with them. He hadn’t noticed this the last time he was here.
The Sound was much louder now, although to Amaru’s ears still subtle and complex. He looked around him and could see no possible origin for the sea music that had called him from his home. He walked down to the shore. The tide was out, and he could see tiny points of light in the depths of the tide pools. Another mystery, since it was not quite dark enough yet for reflections.
Amaru slowly walked among the rocks and looked more closely at the pools of seawater. He could see some of the large, red starfish half-hidden under the rocks or partially buried in the sand. And he saw the source of the lights: small, round objects scattered in among the pebbles and abandoned seashells.
Amaru bent down and picked up one of the twinkling objects. All of a sudden, with a spitting sound like a firecracker, a spark of light flew up from Amaru’s palm, leaving a cracked, whitish shell behind.
He was startled to hear a voice say: “O Amaru, if you will but look up, you will see a new star in the sky!”
Amaru looked for the source of the message and discovered one of the red starfish at his feet. It spoke again: “Look up, O Amaru!”
Amaru looked up. He could see what looked like a shooting star, but it was moving up, up into the firmament. It was now completely dark, and he became aware of all the other millions of stars in the sky. He felt a weight starting to lift from his heart. He stooped down and eagerly picked up another sparkly sphere. The same thing happened, but this time he was prepared, and his eyes followed the star in its flight to join its brothers and sisters. Amaru began to feel happier than he had in a very long while.
When he looked down again, Amaru noticed that he was now surrounded by about twenty of the large, red starfish. And The Sound had swelled in intensity.
It was the starfish! The starfish were singing!