Life and Death are two sides of a coin and how true it is. Imaging death right in front of our eyes gives us goose bumps. When we go back to the history we find some people who have fought with death and have won over it. One among them is Jounus Ali, Captain of one of the cruise ships in Mangalore.
Jounus hails from Jam Salaaya, Gujarat. As a captain he has travelled most of the countries in Africa and Asia. Well, when he narrated to me his battle over death and I just felt the heroic “Sindabadh The sailor” from the books that I had read is right in front of me.
The incident that we are referring to took place in the sea off the coast of Iraq.
Hear it from The Man himself…..
“Eleven of us were on a cargo ship which was carrying dry fruits and at that time I was mere a crew member. When we had sailed just about a 60 nautical miles the sea suddenly started getting ruff or I could probably say the Sea had turned very wild and violent. Expecting the worst, tornado had surfaced the sea. The sea was roaring and the giant waves began hitting our ship.
The ship was totally out of control and all of us had our heart in the mouth. The water began entering the ship. We tried to get in touch with the ships and the boats around us but none could help as they too were in danger of drowning. We tried calling the Coast Guard and the Navy but of no avail. As we continued requesting for help, water had covered the ship and we had no time to save the cargo. We could not even use the Dinky(The small life saving boat) as well. All the eleven of us jumped into the sea and started swimming. We lost all our hopes, feeling of helplessness had taken over our slightest belief of survival
Right in-front of my eyes I saw six crew of our group drowning and I could do nothing. Five of us somehow managed to swim. There was no sign of the Tornado calming down and it was past 15 hours since the incident. Weather returned to normalcy soon after but there was no sight of the shore.
Swimming continuously for about 19 hours we were all tired. Our body ached and we were left with no energy to swim further. I had no hopes of surviving and all we could do is hold the breath and float in the water.Time was running out and life seemed to have come to an and.”
“True to the saying that destiny comes to the aid of the brave, we could see a small ship coming towards us. It was time to thank God. Later we found that the boat had come in search of the survivors. They took us safely to the shore and ALL Is Well at the end.
Even though the nightmare ended, as a sailor I felt sad about the capsize of our ship. I have seen ships capsize at least three times when I was not yet the Captain.” ……………………………………………….
Journey to the Captain’s Seat
Jounus joined as a vessel cleaner boy in one of the local ships. After two years he became a cook. In the next two years he mastered the engine repair skills and later came to be called an engineer. Within five years he became the ‘Maaham’-the who shows direction in the sea. Three years later he was recognized as the Captain and he is now very happy being the Captain for 16 years. “Be it a cruise or a lounge, I can rectify any defect at any corner of the vessel,” he strikes a note of confidence.
Iraq seas are the Best
Even though he faced such a worst accident in Iraq it still remains his favorite sea. He has been held by Navy and Port authorities several times, still he calls them as his friends. “Why should we be afraid of them when we have the passport and other related records?” he questions.
He has good command over English even though he has not been to school. At the same time he admits that language barriers had resulted in confusion in some countries for him.
During the current season he will be in Mangalore, while during monsoons, he returns to his hometown in Gujarat and spends time with his wife and eight children. He is very excited when he says that that his eldest son who is 15 years old, will be joining him next year.”I am waiting for the completion of his class 10,” says Jounus.
When asked if he does not want to give good education to his children and see them in white collared jobs, Jounus said “they are very keen to follow my profession.I want to let them do what they want to do.”
To another question as to what he would have become if he weren’t the Captain, he said that he would become a good cook. “I still love cooking. I prepare Arabic Biriyani everyday and serve it to my colleagues.They all love it,” he says.
He ends his story by saying so ,”You pay and travel to different countries of the world. But, I have travelled for free and the best part is that I am paid for it.”