At 3 am, the phone rang. This was a few years ago. “Hi, how are you?” I was groggy and the male voice unfamiliar, unsure. I should have hung up. Instead, I said, “I don’t think I know you.”
There was a short pause and then, “But I do. I am Lt. Commander X, and I want to talk with you.” Why? Was this the time? I asked these questions, but I did not bang down the phone. I understood his emptiness.
He made me listen to the sea, the ship bobbing on the water. He told me he was some distance away from the shore and from the porthole all he could see was darkness. He told me about his parents, his wife, his little son; he talked about the naval exercises, about how he had fought for us in Kargil. (The 1999 India-Pakistan war in Kashmir.)
I did make attempts to cut short the conversation after a while, but he said, “Look, I am going far from everything, this line will be cut off any time, I felt I could talk with you, somehow I did not think time and other factors would bother you, I could reach out….” I listened. After what seemed like a very long time, he said, “You have been so nice, I have to confess something. It is true I am on a war-ship, but we are docked. If I had told you the truth, would you have talked? I desperately needed to speak with someone…”
I felt sad. A friend told me later, “No ship went to Kargil, you are just such a sucker.” I did not even think about Kargil then. Yes, this person should have been shooed away for the nuisance he probably was. People tell me that I waste time, waste energy, waste opportunities and allow fragile and fickle moments to stay for too long.
There has been a good deal of self-questioning. Some of those I went out of my way to reach out to because they had reached out to me have let me down. But for a brief while at least I had been able to comprehend their journey, always aware that our seas were different. No one knows what is at the end of the shore. We can at best feel the saltiness of the water and experience unknown tides.
Storms aren't meant for anchors…
(c) Farzana Versey