One of the most common questions asked to a seafarer is what brought us to take up a life at sea. For a good number of people, it is the prospect of earning a large amount of money in a short period. But for some of us, while money also plays a factor, there has been a lure of the sea that has been acting within us.
From a very young age, 2nd grade to be precise, I was exposed to various genres of literature. Literature is broadly classified into 4 genres: Poetry, Fiction, Non-fiction and Drama. While drama, predictably, was something that didn’t interest me much at that age, I had many fiction books like Treasure Island, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea and Master and Commander. Treasure Island would have to be my all-time favourite book regaling me with the adventures of Jim Hawkins whose life takes a turn from serving in his parents’ inn The Admiral Benbow when a sea captain, Billy Bones, dies after being presented with a black spot (an official pirate verdict of guilt) by Pew, a blind beggar/pirate. The story of Jim and his mother escaping from the inn with a treasure map and later, the sailing expedition with the one-legged mate, Long John Silver held me captivated every time I read that book.
My collection of non-fiction books was limited to Mutiny onboard H.M.S. Bounty and later, The Perfect Storm. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was a classic in the poetry genre that I had the opportunity to read but not clearly understand at that time. Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn served to inspire the imagination about their erstwhile experiences while sailing on a raft down the river. A lot of storybooks from the erstwhile Soviet Union used to be available in Goa in the 1980’s and exposure to their folktales only served to enrich the imagination of life at sea.
Was it a deciding factor in my decision to take up a life at sea? No. But I like to believe it influenced my decision through an enriched imaginative childhood dreaming about life at sea.