Some weak stomachs lose their fitting when out in the open waters but when almost all life had been on the seas, it becomes your massive watery home. A home on the seas.
All my life I lived on a masterpiece of heavy floating metal. A little game of hide and go seek was only between the hull and cabins of the ship. The only adventure beyond the corners of the ship that I ever knew were the constellations, the wind, the waves. Somehow, having an ego confident sailor for a father with a drive to groom his only son in the art of the great oceans was not totally a bummer.
On clear nights, the stars would glitter and somehow dad knew just what each was doing in order to take us to a destination. He often times would raise a hand to them like he was giving them a warm handshake, then make a lot of funny hand gestures at them and then turn back to me with a broad smile on his face and say;
“Son! They say you gonna be a sailor just like your old man someday… and oh! They also say we are going the right way”
Once he finishes his reiterated star gibberish, then he chuckles and sends me off to bed. Of course I would refuse after all I was having one of the only experiences I knew to be fun. Plus I would emphasize his motto back to him.
“A sailor never sleeps …”
Every time I said that, the tough guy all the crew knew as their captain who never took a joke would look back at me with an extremely wide grin and then burst into a manic baritone laugh.
“A sea man has got tales from beyond the horizon no one else but him knows how to tell”
Waking up every dawn to the sound of the waves crashing on the sides of the floating metal that from the moment you set out from land, becomes your home, only now it’s a home on the seas! You begin to slowly, sometimes intriguingly feel the rhythm the waves created as they smashed the ship. Doing anything below deck could almost still give a feeling like you were back on land, only without the clamor of the treacherous ocean that was all around you.
Getting up everyday as a young lad in these almost maniacal conditions would sure toughen all those wimpy loose ends, and they sure did. Soon enough, the thoughts of home on land scantily crossed my mind. I was becoming a man of the seas, lost in the tide as we cruised over them on calm periods and hurdled over monstrous and nerve racking waves during rough nights.
The vast waters were our passage to another world. The only difference being which world – the living or the dead!
As more years began to add to my sea-man portfolio, the father I knew as a lad grew much more insanely terrifying. One couldn’t tell the cause, his age or the numerous near death escapes we had encountered over the many years of sailing that may have taken a toll on him.
One way or the other I realized he wasn’t much of my outwardly loving father and more of my outwardly pushy Captain. Making the one time delightful sea escapade a threatening ball of expectations that I most times fell a thousand miles short of. I soon began to consider myself a fellow crew-man and even at that, my Captain felt an ecstatic honor by making sure I get acquainted with all the roles and duties of sea-men. This was not just by reading them, it was a chore and I had to do every single one of them to the best of his own standard.
Only on a few, countable occasions do we get to step our feet on a land that was our home turf. During those delectable moments, you appear to the land folk like some stray fish that waltzed out of the ocean. Every single one of your friends give you an alienated glare like they just saw a ghost and then they snap back to their senses and begin to flock around you like some merman superstar, all of them hungry for the tales of the open ocean as I once had been of their own land fairy tales. After all the street cred is quietened, then comes the most heart warming welcome any estranged person could only but dream of – Family.
Over the years, I had grown rather fond of the masculine sailor grooming me in art of sailor-ship than I had of my mother because there was only one way to communicate when out on the waters – no way!
She sized me up from my sailor hat to the crispy leather boots on my feet and burst into tears, tears of elated joy and then she would exclaim;
“All grown up aren’t you? …”
Then I would chuckle below my voice and go in to her outstretched arms for a feel of land-love, a feel of warmth, one that was absent on the seas. Soon after the reunion and tears, she would set fire crackers in our stomachs with her down-to-earth meals that were intended to keep us beyond our stay limit.
She on the other hand was always too excited to eat or do anything other than stare at both I and my sea Captain like we were celebrities paying her a visit. This was ultimately because she knew we ain’t staying long. We don’t ever stay long. This was a heavy price I could never imagine how she pulled through. Putting myself in her shoes was beyond my wildest imaginations. She was my mother, my Captains wife and as sure as we both wanted to remain with her, we just couldn’t. A decision involuntary of our own choices.
These occasions were our own crosses we all had to bear. So we made every single second of it count. I made them count, for my friends, my captain and most importantly My Mother!!