The river course ahead did not seem to have an end. He did not have the gear to fish. His boat was without sails. There were friends calling out to him from the land. Everything convinced him to stay back.
The heart (his natural compass) prodded him to go in the direction of the light. His brain advised him otherwise. He glanced back and saw all that was. All that held him back. All that he wanted was in the future, which lay beyond the horizon.
The ambitious fisherman decided to give wings to his thoughts and rowed away.
"You are good for nothing." This is what he had grown up listening to all these years. It wasn't until this day that he realised he was not meant for this competition which people called life. So there he is, set on his voyage to exploration, discovering the undiscovered, creating his meaning of life..
Shambu chettan always had sweets in his pockets for us, which were duly distributed when we embarked from the vallam on our homeward journey. I always wanted more friends of mine to be in the vallam. He firmly says, â€œNo.â€ â€œWhy?â€ I asked him. â€œI want you to be safe,â€œ he replied with a wink. These days a worried look and unsmiling face is beckoning us at the riverside. But I am happy we have more children on board and it is more fun... I continue to be happy with them and Shambu chettan in this celestial world too....
"Please! don't go," shrieked his little sister. Thirteen-year-old Madhav's heart cried at the thought of leaving his sister alone. Just a few days ago, theirs was a happy family of four. The quake had destroyed most of the village and devoured their parents. He had to find a new home, a new place for them. There were so many unanswered questions he had to ask himself. Yet, he knew he had to take the first step. With one last look at his sister, he taught us love, sacrifice and courage. .
"He seems alone, should we shower on him."
"Would that even make him happy?
I don't really know. "
"He's been standing still for a while in there, sure kid."
"I have done this before, don't kiddo me."
"Alright so what do you think?"
"He savours it all. He is one of us. He can feel without actually feeling. Let's keep moving, someone else needs us more."
Fair judgement I believed and turned the page to the next frame..
He loved to come out at this time. This was his MY time... whether he had people to ferry or not, he would never miss this time of the day. The sky was the prettiest, the most seductive at this time. It reminded him of her. The night falling reminded him of her tresses cascading down and hiding part of her pretty face... he rowed into the darkness imagining losing himself in her, as if nestling into her lap... this was a ritual he revered the mostâ€¦ He abhorred the daylight, which reminded of her guile... stark, bright... he loved this time of the day.
He had lost his job at the factory. They said they were shutting down the factory. But he was not worried; he always had his old occupation: fishing.
What he did not know was that the factory had left him jobless permanently..
As a boatman from early dawn to late evening, life is unexplainable. Though I transport passenger from one bay to the other bay, I don't have a story to tell. Because boatmen always hear stories of passengers, we don't have a story to tell. .
He cast his net and waited. The sea was the provider for his family of four, who lived happily even with the meagre earnings.
But yesterday, the sea was different; tsunami claimed a lot of innocent lives.
Today his wife asked him not to go, but he had to.
He felt the net get heavier. With one tug, he got the fishes in his boat. A tear fell from his eyes. He took the net and throwing the fishes back to the sea, he shouted, "Here are your children. Now give me back mine!" .
Another fishing boat had vanished forever off coast. Its sole occupant drifted ashore. Dead. It was the third such incident. All of them linked to influence of the spirits. Why else would someone venture out on a foggy night!
June was sure something was amiss. She could swear she had seen something hit the boat just before it vanished. The radars showed nothing. Were there ships that could give the radars a slip? They said his death clouded her judgement.
The next war wasn't going to be declared until it was too late. China was fast approaching. By stealth..