From Jens Fink-Jensen: Jonas og konkylien (1994)

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Jonas and the Conch Shell


There's a boy walking in a field of grain. His name is Jonas. He watches the wind blowing through the grain turning it into an ocean of waves. On one side of the field Jonas can see the houses where he lives. On the other side there's a whitewashed farmhouse with a red roof. It stands by itself, almost like an island.
   In the distance is the woods. Jonas pretends that it's another country with mountains and thick jungles filled with natives and wild animals.



Jonas moves carefully through the grain trying to keep his path as secret and as invisible as possible. He lies down on a blanket in the middle of the field and munches on a carrot from a blue box that he keeps hidden on his secret island.
   Here he lies every day and gazes at the clouds changing shape as they go by. Sometimes they appear from nowhere, then sail past and disappear into nothingness. It must be so hard for them to recognize each other, thinks Jonas, when they're always changing shape.





Suddenly Jonas feels something hard and spiny under his heel. It's covered with mud and the curious spikes sticking out make it resemble a hedgehog. But it's not alive. It must be some kind of unusual stone.
   Jonas begins to scrape the mud off with a branch. It's larger than an orange and there's a deep fold along its side.





Jonas runs through the grain to rinse the strange thing off at a water hole in a grassy field. He squeezes through the barbed wire, jumps over the fresh cow turds and kicks at the dried ones so that they fill the air with dust. The cows with curved horns on their heads look up to see who's come to disturb them in their drinking. But Jonas isn't afraid of them.
   He scrubs and scrapes his find in the cool water until no more earth comes out. Now it's very light in colour, there's a silvery glow deep inside the fold and he can't see where it ends.





Jonas' father tells him it's a conch shell. A very fine and large one. He holds it with the fold to his ear and he looks, like he has a secret. "I thought as much," he says.
   "What?" asks Jonas.
   "Listen for yourself,” says his father, and Jonas hears a rushing, roaring sound. He closes his eyes and hears the wind and the water. It's not rain, it's not like the shower in the bathroom and it's not like water falling on the car when his father washes it with the garden hose. It's most like the ocean! It's the same sound that waves make when they break on the beach on television. "I can hear the ocean," says Jonas.
   "Yes," says his father. "A long time ago the shell lived in the water." And he explains that there was once ocean where they live now and that the conch remained behind when the ocean disappeared. But there have always been fields outside for as long as Jonas can remember. And he knows that always is a very long time. So why is it that the sound of the ocean is still in the shell?





Now Jonas carries his conch shell with him everywhere and he keeps it by his side when he sleeps at night. My conch must meet the ocean again, he thinks. He knows that the conch still remembers the ocean. It still has the sound inside. Finally, one evening, his father says, "We're going to the ocean tomorrow."
   That night Jonas sleeps in his hammock on the terrace. He lies warm and cosy in his sleeping bag and looks up at the stars while he holds the conch to his ear. It's almost as though he hears sounds and voices from far off in space. Perhaps there are other children out there among the stars. Do they look like him? Are they green or blue? Do they change shapes all the time, like the clouds? It doesn't matter, thinks Jonas. As long as they want to play.

... this is how Jonas and the Conch Shell begins. The book has till now been published in Danish only.

Translated by Arun Dhundale. (Danish: Jonas og konkylien).
Illustrations by Mads Stage.

Jonas and the Conch Shell is followed by Jonas and the Sky Tent.