Call it fate,destiny or sheer consternation made me want to believe in God again, for what lay ahead seemed insurmountable for a mere mortal such as me.but being on this ship did seem to put the fear of god in me.
The ship had many problems, the first and foremost being that the ship was an old lady who at the age of 27 years had not aged gracefully.
Things were falling apart wherever you looked.
Decay and disintegration was evident at every nook and cranny.
One morning when the chief officer inspected a photograph of the rising sun that he had taken a while ago,he discovered that the altostratus clouds that was right above the ship resembled an angel with wings looking at the ship.
A picture taken showed two angels looking at the ship(if you had oodles of imagination, a squinty pair of eyes and a shot of vodka)
The angel wore a bowler hat and resembled Charlie Chaplin (only in a way clouds can ever resemble people)
Promptly the news was spread around the ship that we had a new patron saint that looked upon us at all times and he had now chosen to reveal himself.
People were elated for many days to come,and in a few more days they forgot all about it.
Now let’s talk about death angels.
Ok , let’s not.
24 coconuts were offered at various parts of the ship to release all the negative energy.
A Bounty chocolate bar (now expired for more than 2 years) and a sealed bottle of traditional japanese saki were kept in the altar in an attempt to appease the gods and get rid of the demons on board.
The bottle was sealed so as to keep the saki out of reach of mortals.
Everyone else was free to have as much as they liked.
The altar was a traditional japanese altar which now housed multidenominational gods -Holy Mary,sai Baba, Holy Ganesha, & esus H Christ (perhaps crucifixion with nails was not enough, so in this altar, he was taped to his cross with duct tape)
We also had Plastic flowers in the altar…just in case.
One can never know what satisfies the Gods (or for that matter us mortals either)
Lucky charms hung from every door of every cabin.
Smiling Buddhas and coins with holes were scattered throughout the ship for good luck.
Instead of pin ups and centrefolds, posters of Jesus,Mary and other gods adorned the bulkheads of most cabins.
People no longer believed entirely in their own abilities and capabilities.They wanted something more, a supernatural force to guide them, give them strength and courage when they needed it, and when they no longer had them in sufficient quantities.
Strangely my cabin had pictures of horses…Big strong muscular horses frozen in prancing poses, looking majestic and awe inspiring.
I think the last guy who lived in my cabin had a horse fetish.
And a few Ghosts
The ship also seems to have its fair share of ghosts.
Oilers would simply refuse to keep engine room watches alone.They were afraid of the japanese.
Six japanese technicians had died many years ago in the engine room.The oilers as well as most of the ship believed that these spirits roamed around the ship.Sometimes one could hear them trying to talk to you in the midst of the surrounding din of the machinery.Sometimes you saw people walking where no one was supposed to be working.Sometimes you heard footsteps when you thought you were all alone.Doors opened on their own.Chairs tipped over at night.The phone would ring sometimes and no one would answer.
Then there is a boatswain who died of a painful heart attack before medical help arrived.
Then there are those blood curdling wails and low rasping groans that one can hear if he dared to venture out on deck at night.
Then there are the ghosts in the machine – machinery suddenly going berserk or refusing to work.
Once on the bridge, a photograph taken by a seaman revealed a spectre wearing a white boiler suit standing next to the gyro compass.The face was blurred…almost melting into the background.
A technician who had gone to the cargo hold to check some equipment returned unhinged ,said that he heard whispers and groans and soft whooshing sounds of unseen things flying past by him.We had to reassure him and send a bodyguard with him only to discover that all sounds mysteriously disappeared.
It is said that most of us cannot see ghosts.We don’t have the sensory acuity required to detect the presence.
But then there are others, far more unfortunate, cursed with the sensitivity of being able to sense these revenants.
But here are a few things to know about seeing ghosts.
You’ll never see a ghost in front of you…from what I’ve gathered, ghosts are mostly felt not seen.And sometimes they are seen from the corner of the eye,only for a brief moment, just enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of a blur moving out of your field of vision.Usually ghostly activities are preceded by a sharp drop in temperature…it goes cold around you.Then there is the tingling at the back of your neck – a dull but unmistakable foreboding of danger…and when you start having all these symptoms together, then be sure – a ghost is somewhere near you, probably next to you, reading this very line , along with you.
Thus he told the story , as he had, many times before to scare a new hand simply shitless.
To which the newcomer said, somewhat melodramatically…
I fear no ghost mon frere!
Forsooth there is none a bigger ghost than us- at sea!
We are the living dead – torn apart – mind,body and soul across the foamy shores and across the frothy seas.
Our minds and bodies belong to the depths of sea, where we toil and eke out our meagre existence, while our hearts and souls, are at the mercy of our loved ones.
We struggle – neither here nor there never whole in mind or body.
Is that not what a ghost is …a soul without a body?
Is that not what the living dead are…a body without a soul?
My brother,my friend – we, the living ghosts are far more dangerous than dead ones.
So I fear no ghost mon frere,for I am nothing but one.
(Apparently , he had taken Drama class in college)