Sunday, August 14, 2005

"Cast Away"


One of the plus points of achan’s job was that it took him to exciting little places unknown to the rest of the world..and many times we accompanied him on these adventures..


It had been in March 1990,achan had to go on an inspection to some LHs in coastal Karnataka.And as amma was reluctant to stay on her own with us kids on her own, we joined him for his one week long tour.The first two halts were Bhatkal and Karwar LHs,mostly similar to our own one.The third one was on a huge rock some kms into the sea from Karwar,which was a port.We went in a steam boatand as we neared the place,we shifted into a small hand paddled boat,there was a staff of the LH accompanying us as a guide.We anchored on the banks of 'Oyster Rock' thats what it was called, all the oysters clinging on to the rocks,with some trees spanning a little land are,waves lashing on all sides,the LH standing majestically on top and the staff quarters right beneath it.

The LH as well as the Head Light Keeper’s quarters and the engine room and all were designed by the British almost a century ago.Appeared like a complete musuem,century old glassware and kitchenware, the hearthplace and antique pieces of furniture..it was fun running around inspecting them.Later on top of the LH,with the Arabian sea on all four sides and the mainland far beyond on one side,seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere….

I remember amma actually did cook up rice and parippu curry and fish fry(one of the staff went fishing exclusively for us :)) that afternoon.There were only three people as staff, they being the only human inhabitants of this tiny island,dared not bring their families, insufficient living facilities held them back. They lived on rainwater collected in a tank during the Monsoons and had to use that all through the year.It was like “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink”.

As night fell,all the excitement of being in this queer little place dwindled, bcoz there was no electricity.We lit up hurricane lamps and all of a sudden everything looked spooky and eery to me..the sound of the roaring sea below and the chilling quietness..it was entirely different at night time..


While I was trying to get some sleep, happened to overhear achan telling amma (I always have this habit of unintended listening which hardly brought me much good :))I could hear his voice clear,”the staff here really have a tough time,especially during the monsoons,this tiny island is completely cutoff from the mainland due to the rough sea.All the food and other essentials have to be shipped in before June and then for three consecutive months, nobody risked going out in a small boat into the violent sea.... A few years ago, one of the staff had his family staying with him here, and his seven year old daughter fell ill with ‘Pneumonia’.That being the rainy season , there was no way they could get her medical treatment and she died here.She was buried a few yards away from where we are now.People here say they see her,clad in white, walking past, on the day of her death every year..that day happens to be in this week it seems…Humanbeings who suffer themselves to death, have their souls roaming around without peace..thats what Hindu belief says….” I hear my mother gasping and upset over the little child’s fate, simultaneously a shiver goes down my spine.I try to picturize the unfortunate kid and then I felt I could see a white aparition looking at me through the windowpane…I closed my eyes and prayed that it be morning soon, and was relieved when we left the place, the first thing in the morning.

When I landed there the previous morning, I had thought I would want to stay in that mysterious place for ever, but now I was the most anxious to bid farewell…this was one of the ironies of life..how your preferences and priorities and likes and dislikes can change with lightening speed, it amazes you sometimes..after all we are on the lookout for happiness and serenity all our lives..

2 comments:

neeth said...

i can understand ur feelings quite well....
the LH does have an eerie look....
and i absolutely love the snap.

soorya said...

neeth: Many thanks for posting the snap for me :)...It sure looks very good