#2 Reflections: A Man Of the Sea
Writing has always been my fear but there are so many words inside of me, waiting for a page to fall on. So this is my attempt to push past this fear — a reflection a day in writing.
Recently, my mum has been bursting with stories from her past. I walk into the kitchen to see her bouncing up and down waiting to tell someone about something new she remembered. We joke that a Pandora’s box has been open in the basement of her mind and now it all wants out.
Yesterday we went to the park and I can’t remember exactly why but stories about her father, my grandfather, came up. My grandfather was a man of the sea. He was the captain of a merchant Navy ship that traded between Dubai and Iran. My ear perked up . Dubai and Iran? In the late 1900s? Now that was a fascinating time in history!
But, she relates, that ‘fascinating time' was exactly what bought the trips to an end. It was a normal day, his ship was docked at shore and my grandfather crossed on to a nearby ship for some friendly chatter. After a hearty conversation and some new connections formed, he made his way back, only for an ear-splintering explosion to rip across the ship he stood on moments before. No one survived on that ship.
My grandfather had travelled the world, yet these were the small fragments I was ever going to get. He passed away in 2019, after suffering many years from Alzheimer’s. The last time I remember hearing him hold a full conversation was when I was small enough to sit on his lap. I remember him telling us stories about his trips, but although I can recall his gentle voice and his animated hand gestures, I just can’t seem to recall any of the stories.
Stories from our elders are fascinating. It relates, in a way, to my thoughs I shared previously about history and its importance to me. While we, as youth, need to read history to expand our worldview past our minsicule liftetime, we have our elders who have lived it. The shift of the world that our grandparents have witnessed from their childhood to today is absolutely phenomenal. They were born in an India that was under British rule, they lived their youth under only candlelight and then married at a time when phone lines were non existent. Yet they’ve lived on to witness a time where with a swipe of the finger against a block smaller than their palm, they get to meet their grandchildren on the other side of the world. They’ve lived and breathed a history no book can capture.
My grandfather — a life of 83 years so wholesomely lived. A lifetime of adventures, laughter and mishaps, but all buried away forever. I may never learn of his full story. A piece of my history is gone from me forever. And although I cannot get that back, a sense of urgency rises in me. I cannot let any other story be buried away before it has passed down. I cannot let another piece of my history wash away.