It was the chance of a lifetime. The newspapers had been singing incessant praises about the remarkable journey for weeks now. The thought of it was too gigantic in nature to even make a foray into my mind. Would I find a place on it?
But when the manager called me into his office, puffed out a whiff of cigar smoke and echoed, “You’re going on THE SHIP”, I was elated.
Having grown up in the docks of Southampton, I was destined the ply the hard trade of the harbor, like my father and his father before him.
While they both did a good job of patting each others’ backs, proud of their heritage at the anchorage, I could see from a very young age, that that was not the life for me. The black soot, the vile breath of rum ever present at their foaming mouths, the way they treated the women of the house. No, I was not going to the docks.
So, I took up the violin. And boy, did it redeem me. I found solace in the strings, beauty in the notes and livelihood at the Southampton Great Orchestra.
And now, I was going to be a part of the biggest event, the confluence of the old and the new, the British and the American. A combined performance of the best of both the worlds. At the new capital of the world, New York. And to top things off, the voyage would be on the Great White Liner. The Titanic, her maiden voyage.
The glitz, the glamour and the grandeur of the ship are beyond my vocabulary. Having been stationed in the third class quarters, I really did not get to see the opulence of the first class halls and chambers. But the crowd in the third class made up for it. People of every known and unknown tongue milled about the deck, the ship a microcosm of the world itself, chugging along smoothly over the mighty Atlantic.
I encountered another artist. A painter. Young, brash and full of life and himself, we exchanged conversation and drinks for a couple of nights.
Later on, though, I saw that his palette had a new color on it. He had befriended a noble girl, a wide-eyed damsel very clearly in distress.
They galloped around the ship, clearly lusting after each other. I hoped the girl knew better. The artist had the eyes and manner of a womanizer, the swagger of a cheat. I could tell he would leave her at the drop of a hat. But the girl seemed innocuous to her impending doom. She was clearly taken in by him.
One day, I saw a visual I could not comprehend at first. They were shooting out mouthfuls of spit, from over the deck, making a game out of it. Ah, the drama of foolish temporary love! I could tell then itself that by the end of the journey, they would not be together.
I could tell then itself that by the end of the journey, they would not be together.
Write Club Hyderabad – The Others Within – 2 – 30th September 2017.