Voyage of the Penguins

Christine Redfern

Christine Redfern


This story is in memory of the passengers who were on the Komagata Maru.

This happened exactly a hundred years ago. Three-hundred-and-seventy-six penguins arrived on an iceberg (a huge chunk) to the shores of a glittering city. But they were not allowed to land.

The residents of the city, the Shore Penguins said that the Berg Penguins were not penguins at all. “Berg Penguins are cockroaches really,” observed the Emperor. “Therefore unsuitable, and they must turn back.”

In the meantime the iceberg was melting at an alarming rate. And a few days later there was little food and water left, only crumbs, and Berg Penguins began to eat less and less. Together they begged the authorities for permission to land. At least provide us water, a tiny little voice screamed. But her request was turned down.

Seven more weeks passed by. During this time two elderly birds jumped into the frigid waters, and neither one of them was seen again.

On Friday the city glittered marvelously as it was the day of remembrance of pure values. Shore Penguins (and their happy babies) danced and picnic-ed on the beach, and while they made merry a clear message was radioed to the ‘pests’.

“If you don’t turn back within 24 hours we will fire.”

By now the iceberg was less than a hundredth of the original size. And the only sound was the sound of cracking.

Twenty-four hours later the Emperor ordered his soldiers to get ready for a crackdown. They fired and fired until the bloody float disappeared.

A few hours later the children on the shore noticed something rising from the waters, and to this day it is still there. Not just when one stands on the beach and looks out to the sea, but throughout the land. Each time one breathes one feels its presence.


Jaspreet Singh’s latest book Helium is published by Bloomsbury. Christine Redfern’s latest graphic novella Who Is Ana Mendieta? is published by The Fem