Rescue on the sea – Ep. 1/2

By Zeenat Iqbal Hakimjee
Monday – July 9, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Children on bare - back camels, watch the sea, its vastness spanning even beyond the grasp of their eyes. Fishermen on the beach watch the sky, like the city dwellers read their newspapers first thing in the morning. Through the knots of their nets hanging on the line, they seem to predict the weather.

This exercise determines whether they should take a boat out or not on the deep sea, for their daily expedition to catch fish. The air is filled with the smell of rancid water that is due to the deposits of oil, resulting in decayed and dead sea-life.

Music, which is a part of their lives, plays in the background. The sounds are a fusion of musical cultures from the Middle East, Indo-Pakistan and Africa.

The shells on the beach look like the abandoned toenails of the old fishermen, and they are more beautiful there, than on the foot. The broken wings, the sand-logged crabs, a woman’s lonely shoe, a rusty toy damaged beyond recognition, the plank or sail from a doomed boat, all lay sprawled on the beach, each with a story behind it, cleansed and sterilised by the salt and iodine in the great hospital of the sea. In the night, the light from the tower was but a spot against the background of the sky and spectacular cliffs.

The weather beaten villager’s munched dates from the interior while watching holidaymakers trying to teach their children to swim, like fish to water, amidst the shouts and screams of the children who are already submerged in the waters.

The steps of the ladies faltered as they approached the sea, clad in shalwar kameezes filled with the wind, the Shalwar Kameez itself a deterrent for swimming.

The story told here is that of a villager who because of his sharp sense of hearing helped in the rescue of a drowning man. The villager was alone and as he had no family to fend for, hence he had no responsibilities to drain his energy.

Somehow he had also preserved his youth, which he owed to mother nature. Religion that usually comes into the house with the presence of a woman was lacking in him and he was quite oblivious of it.

One evening when it was well after ten and the moon was full with black clouds scudding in ordered masses across the sky, he was still sitting on his wall, all alone. A cool wind suddenly sighed from an unexpected quarter and in its wake was a noise like that from a distant cavalry charge.

His razor sharp ears picked up the sound. His brow creased up as his eyes searched the distance. He hobbled to his neighbours house and banged on the door of his traditional mud-hut – the two men, though natural life-guards, knew thoroughly all that was written in the books about rescue on the seas.

The coastal blacks were descendants of imported slaves – the fishermen being known as the Meds and the seamen as the Koras – when there was no response; he banged on the door again. A groggy fellow soon appeared. He pointed towards the horizon and mumbled something in the Makranic dialect.

(to be continued...)

Very little has been written about the ancient coastal people of Lyari – the irrepressible Makranis – who take their name from the Makran coast of Sindh and, Balochistan, which also indicates a common history of the two provinces; the Makran coast constitutes the South-East of Iran and the South-West of Pakistan; a 1,000 km stretch along the Gulf of Oman from RA’s (cape) Al-Kuh, Iran (West of Jask), to the Lasbela District of Pakistan (near Karachi). The Makran coast is on the Arabian Sea, to the North-West of Quetta in Balochistan.

The above is a story of one such coastal village...


The writer can be reached at: zeenat.hakimjee@gmail.com

Disclaimer: All characters and incidents in this story are fictional; resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. The storyline expressed in this work has nothing to do whatsoever with the agenda, policy, guidelines, opinions, reports and/or views held by the management of The Daily Recorder (TDR - www.thedailyrecorder.com) and/or its associated team.

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