About two decades ago, sailing through the Bay of Bengal on a stormy monsoon morning, it was just the three of us inside the master’s cabin. The weather outside was dull – harsh winds, torrential rains and a choppy sea. The tiny ship tossed, rolled and pitched. It seemed like most other ‘bad weather’ days I had witnessed as a child on board. That made me safely assume ‘this too shall pass!’
Something was amiss. With daddy spending more time on the bridge during off-duty hours, there was definitely more to the situation. In a span of roughly half-an-hour, daddy had visited the cabin thrice. Every time he had a brief conversation with mummy, she made an effort to calm his nerves. The initial conversations were on similar lines – the wind was howling, pushing away the vessel to shallow waters and all efforts to anchor the ship were in vain. Such weather conditions were expected to prevail, and we were 30 minutes away from running aground. The third one was most intense.It was 1:10 pm then. Daddy said, “We are 10 minutes away from sinking. The latest weather report says that wind force will change its direction for 60 seconds at 1:16 pm. That is when we will try to push ourselves out of these shallow waters. If the direction of the wind doesn’t change, possibility of the engine giving-up is very high. We are bound to get drowned. The ship will break. Either way, we don’t have an option. Do or die for us, literally! If the direction changes, we’ll be very lucky to escape.” To which mummy replied, “Go ahead! We have to try! Nothing is over until you stop trying!”
As a four-year old, I didn’t understand much; but the air around hinted at grim consequences. Daddy returned to the bridge with great haste and I sat quietly in mummy’s lap. There was deafening silence in the cabin, in stark contrast to the thunderous winds outside. I don’t remember what happened during the next 10 minutes, but when daddy walked in sometime later, there was a noticeable relief in his gait. We were out of danger, the weather forecast was accurate and we had left the shallow waters way behind – those 60 seconds ended a 22-hour long ordeal!After a couple of years, when mummy was narrating this incident to a friend, I realised that logically, there was no chance of survival that day, communication with the shore had failed, both the anchors were down and the swirling ‘cyclone’ was lethal.
Call it luck, fate or destiny – it is beyond comprehension! This may sound nothing short of a miracle, but as they say, “What is meant to be will always find a way!”
(By Nikita Gupta)
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