Sunday, February 5, 2023

Ohki – J.T Jayasingh, Tamilnadu


He, the short sturdy, seasoned man
Whose skin tanned like a burned bread
With scars of all sea monsters’ shape
Came there with his kin a few years back
To save our families from a threatening river flood.
With their worn out catamarans and bruised fishing boats
They fought with ease every whirl and gush of the muddy river.
We were watching jaw dropped, how they risked their life
To capture from the clutches of death even the last old woman.

Once in my train journey a north Indian wondered and
Quizzed me, “Do you know Thoothoor, the land of
The legendary fishermen, short and sturdy, known
Around the world for their deep water fishing skills?
Once even whales learnt their forgotten paths from them;
Sharks were fleeing for life in their presence;
Water was their foam bed and crabs their children’s play toys;
Waves, the marauding jallikattu bulls, always they subdued.
We know, ocean is the greatest philosopher and even
Sophocles learnt life’s plots from it;
We know tossed between life and death every other day,
The fishermen need no other school.

But, what happened??

Like Hemingway’s Old Man they had umpteen forefathers
Who could predict things by a feather of a sea skull, tinge of a wind,
Shades of the sky and even flurry of the baby crabs.

Then, what happened??

I am standing here perplexed, bemused, chilled
When the wise, brave fisher folk who saved my kin
Shattered apart in life by Tsunamies and Okhies, of late.

What happened??

Perhaps, we in our greed triggered the water God’s fury
By destroying the glaciers?
Perhaps, we in our pride, encroached all its paths
With our ultra-tech industries?
Perhaps, we as the disciples of Belial made the great oceans
As our dust bins?
Perhaps, we as governments spared nothing for theses rejected
Nature’s children?
Perhaps, we did the sin of Lucifer and they are reaping the sour fruits?


I see the fisherman’s spirit rising from its ashes in the eastern sky;
I see it attired in the cloak of glory for subduing mighty waves,
Violent tempests and deadly tsunamis.
True they died valiant deaths but all by the warriors’ rule book:
They don’t need your filthy freebies,
They don’t dance for your feeble tunes.
It is a business among the trio: the Creator, the Ocean and the Warrior,
We lesser mortals cannot know their mysterious ways.
From waves they learnt that the end of life is death and
The end of death is life again…
They learnt from their fishing stints that pain is but a passing cloud,
They learnt from their fishing nets that loss is only to those whose posses,
Sky is their roof, ocean their war field and life a journey for ever…


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