This blog is my unposted letter on behalf of my friend Deepak (now no more) to his Dad. Dear Dad I can see your eyes are wet. I have to write this letter anyway as it's my last chance to tell you some truth.
A lot of things happened with me during my training stint at my marine academy, which you might not be aware of. If you think that I don't understand why you wanted me to join this marine institute, far away from home, paying such a huge sum, then you are the wrong Dad. I always knew that you knew about my affair with the Muslim girl (no name pls). You wanted to protect me from her angry family.
Well, I don't understand how you could take such a decision when you and mom could not afford a single day without seeing me, your only son. Kiddo (sister) always knew that I had been you people's favourite, but she was my favourite in the family.
It was tough for me during my initial days of the training at the academy. I was missing you all, very badly. With most of the cadets from North India, I felt left out in the academy. My poor Hindi made me the laughing stock of the batch. Everyone doubted how I could find my place in this academy when I have such a poor academic background. It's a mystery for me as well till now.
My initial days were too harsh at the training. Everyone from security guard till the Dean at the academy had been some way or the other related to Indian Defence. Although they call it a Merchant Navy Academy, it was more of a Defence Academy. My life had been like hell. I always blamed you, people, for spoiling me with too much comfort.
Every day started with this fucking whistle blown at my ears by the physical trainer (another Navy veteran). And believe me, this used to happen at 4.30 in the morning. The next thing is to get into our exercise gear and consume this rotten black tea without sugar. Then the worst part of jogging in the national highway begins. We follow this fucking trainer of ours with our blood and sweat. Lucky for me, Sanu was with me. We both used to hide behind the trees during the jog, then have some high tea from the nearby bakery and join the joggers on their way back. This schedule was something we used to follow religiously when one fine day, we got caught by the trainer. That was the worst thing that happened to me till that day in the academy. My punishment included jumps, hops, runs, rolls, quacks and whatever they name it. I was dead. All those times, I was cursing you for making me join this institute. If you think morning drill was terrible, then there were worse things to come. The first thing was the change in uniforms. We had to change our outfits 5 times in a day. To add to this agony; our dresses got inspected diligently. The captain inspects at the morning march past. If any problems with ironing, cleanliness or polishing, then I am dead meat. Why in the God damn world, they need to check the boiler suits when they are meant to get dirty. The only good thing about the institute was the food. But the so-called eating etiquettes had reduced my appetite. By all means, why is the navy man monitoring our behaviour at the mess?
Dad, these things were common to all students; however, there was something so unique to me. I was the laughing stock for both the teachers and students. Whatever question the teacher wants to ask, he would put it to me. My friends hardly bothered to help me as they were amused to see my funny clueless reaction. There were a few occasions I had jumped out of this Academy. If you think every time I come home was during the leave at the Academy, then you were wrong dad. We were not even allowed to go out of the campus. It can be done only once every month and that too, with strict rules. Sometimes my five-star group joined me in jumping out. The five stars were Me, Sanu, Kutty, Ganesh and Prasad.
As a part of the training curriculum, we had to jump from very high distance into the water. I used to beg the trainers to spare me. They hardly bothered to listen to my hydrophobia issues. I continued to curse you for my fate.
The firefighting exercise wasn’t less haunting too. We need to wear bulky suits and walk into a room which is on fire and try to extinguish them. I thought I would be dead. But I survived, only to blame you more. And why was this training on medicine given to us? I was good, neither physically nor mentally.
Those were days when I decided to leave the academy. I was missing her very badly. I used to cry and cry all night. Friends comforted me, but it did not help me much. One beautiful day our academy permitted our batch to stay away from campus. And trust me those were some of the best days of my life. We five-star group stayed together in a farmhouse. We had seashore at our back yard.
We used to play beach volleyball for hours, and we had this multiplex which runs movies even when we five alone were present at the theatre. Daily parties became norms. I got a little addicted to alcohol. No matter how happy I am with my friends, I was still missing her.
My smoking habit got worse. I found my hands shivering all the time. I said to myself that healthy food would put me in proper shape once again. The other thought I always had was my poor performance at the academics. This thought, along with my poor work skill and communication, made me the least deserving person at the academy. I also underwent training at the Chennai port trust. It was once again, a bad experience. The working standards were strict with some rogue bastards giving us harsh and inhumane jobs. Meanwhile, Sanu was becoming my close friend. He started helping me academically and also towards my outlook at life. Finally, my training finished and to my surprise, I got qualified.
I am sure that my graduation news must have made you teary-eyed. Basking in the glory of this success, I did not realise that my tough times had just started. My job hunt at Mumbai was my first shock of reality. Unfortunately, during this time, Sanu was not with me as he was the first to get placed without even the academy's support. He used to call me on satellite phones during these days. I know you can't see me suffer, but I must admit that my heart sank when you decided to bribe a company to get me a job by taking a loan. I tried to work hard to do justice for your trust in me, but I did not like this job. It was just not for me.
All I wanted was a simple life with you, mom, kiddo and she by my sides. You never asked me what I wish to as I continued to struggle in the ship as well. People at my ship started to rag me with extra work. I used to work continuously without sleep for more than two days.
After six months in the ship, I wanted to leave it once for all. Then, I met Sanu. He was in Chennai for his up-gradation course. He motivated me to go ahead. Idiot, He made me do it. When he did the course in 6 months, it took me closer to 1.5 years. But I did it. Those days, my smoking and drinking were kept under control by him. Then one fine day, he left me to join his ship. Something told me that it would be my last sight of him. Dad, I had simple dreams in life. I don’t want to be rich. I want to be with you and mom. I knew you left the police job not because you didn’t like it but because you were not doing well physically. I had known this for long but still kept mum because I wanted to earn fast and get you the best medical treatment. But you continued to worsen your health by selling saris, reaching out to homes on your old bicycle. I wanted to do something very fast, but I was too irritated when you took so much loan for me and this training. Dad let me tell you something which you don’t know about me. You always think I am great at studies. I am not Dad. I had to cheat to pass my Engineering, and my Fundamentals are terrible. You think I am a teetotaller, but I am not, and to some extent, I am addicted to intoxication. You think I had forgotten the Muslim girl, but let me tell you that my life would be incomplete without her. You think I am healthy, but I am not, I always feel that I am getting weak. My hand's shiver, so are my intentions in life, Dad. Finally, you think, I don’t think much about You and Mom. You are wrong again. I had decided to break up with this girl. I had decided to quit alcohol and smoking just for you. I had decided to embrace shipping despite my hatred towards it, just for you, Dad. I wanted to earn more and earn it fast. I wanted you to stop working. I wanted to buy a great house for you and Mom. I wanted to educate kiddo to her hearts wish.
My wishes had changed Dad. Now I stopped being the old Deepak and started to live a new life when this sick accident happened to me. I thought it was just a small cut on my leg. But my weak Immunity had made me defenceless. You won’t believe me, but for the first time in my life, I wanted to live more when I saw you beside me at the hospital. I wanted to tell you all this, but I expected to say it later. I wanted to say how much I love you all but decided to do it later. I wanted to share all my dreams but decided to wait till I get ready. But little, I realized that it would be the last day of my life. And sadly, I had to depart you lovely people with tears. Sorry, Dad, I had let you down again. Love – Deepak Note: Deepak had been my best friend during my marine training days. I still remember his parents crying, holding my hands to take care of him at the hostel. He was a spoiled kid full of innocence and humour. I attribute a lot of my humour to this idiot. His death news is something unbearable to me. For all, I believe he is still somewhere in the sea sailing, and I could not meet him.