Tears, joy as seamen savour freedom
By Nizamuddin Siddiqui
KARACHI: Ask any sailor. Making it to land after being at sea for a few months is like re-entering the world of the carefree because you leave most of your cares (and your work) at your ship. Doing so after more than six months is like regaining paradise.
Making it to your homeland after more than six months at sea is akin to coming back to your planet after visiting distant ones. And stepping onto your home soil after being at sea for almost a year and after virtually being held at gunpoint during the entire period is like…. well, there are no words to describe the feeling.
Only the four Pakistani crew of the ill-fated MV Suez, which was hijacked by Somali pirates in August last year and set free after payment of $2.1 million in ransom last week, can describe exactly how they felt when they stepped onto their home soil on Thursday. Describing their bittersweet emotions is beyond an onlooker.
Having said that, every onlooker and every television viewer could more or less empathise with the 22 seamen who arrived in Pakistan on Thursday after their 10-month ordeal. It was easy to understand why all of them felt the need to kiss the ground the moment they reached the safety of the dockyard here. The Pakistanis did so because it was their own soil. But for the Indians stepping off PNS Zulfiquar and onto Karachi port at least meant that their troubles were largely over.
For the skipper of MV Suez, Capt Wasi Ahmed, stepping off the naval ship meant that the responsibility of taking care of the crew under his charge was almost over. But the ordeal his own family members went through over the past 10 months must have been nagging at his mind.
So when his daughter Laila, who had come to symbolise the long struggle to get him and his colleagues released from the captivity of the calculating Somali pirates, the expected happened. A tired and emotionally drained Capt Wasi burst into tears as unabashedly as did little Laila.
On their part, the navy personnel at hand sent balloons into the air and showered rose petals on the two as a mark of their long-awaited reunion. And representatives of media organisations, some of whom took credit for the freedom regained by the seamen, tried to outdo each other in the race for photographs, footage and sound bites.
At the dockyard, Capt Wasi was unable to say much. Perhaps he didn’t want to say anything as the longing to meet his family must have been uppermost in his mind.
A couple of hours later, his wish was fulfilled, at the Governor’s House. But not before long speeches had been delivered, long footages shot and countless photographs taken.–Nizamuddin Siddiqui