"..thy sea is a blessing to thee.."
NIGHT BEFORE HARI RAYA
My ship is somewhere in the South China Sea, steaming from one foreign land to another. I kept watch on the bridge since 2000H and i wasn`t half way trough yet. Its 2105H on the night before hari raya and i`m here in the middle of the ocean listening to some Vietnamese fishermens chattering on channel 16 and not the takbir.
If only the main office didnt call me to the last minute or if only i didnt picked up the phone, then i would be at home with dad and mom and my crazy brothers and cousins busy with hari raya preperations of membakar lemang or something. But then reality check. I am in the middle of the ocean on a steel hull with 36 others who had the same feeling like me.
I kept the thinking of home as far away as i could since i`m here for less than a month and i had another 5 months ahead while there are others onboard who should be at home by now but someone at the office maybe or accidently forgot those few who should have signed off few days back but their reliever didnt turned up.
I pity them but that is life when you are involved in this kind of career.Nothing more i could give them, not even a day off. That is given at master discretions and its lucky for all of us that the old man would give us an extra day off on the 2nd day of hari raya. I bet he doesnt have the mood for working either since the office also had their holidays for almost a week. Well i dont really know and im just speculating that theory.
The only thing is i will keep on with watchkeeping duties even on the morning of hari raya since we didnt have extra officer onboard and no one will took over my duties either unless the captain would say something else which i doubt really much.But my then there is no overtime and i dont have to spend another four hours for two days.Its a holiday after all.
Preperations for hari raya were mainly made by the catering department with the cook and his stewards will stay up till midnight preparing for meals which could match even the prime minister open house in Putrajaya.Some of the crew would also help in the spirit of celebrations,preparing the lounge with decorations or simply potong bawang which will be served with nasi himpit adabi that was bought from singapore a month before that.
The ship steamed trough the waves steadily under the moonlit night.Fresh breeze blowing from northeast and the fishermen voice had started to diminished. I had my eyes on the radar while my mind depicting the days i had myself during hari raya while at sea years ago. I consider myself lucky while others had their hari raya celebration at places only god knows where, i spent my hari raya at my hometown while on shipboard service.
The story goes when at that time were at east Malaysia a week before hari raya to load palm oil products destined for Europe. After loading completion the ship set sail to west Malaysia to the only port in the east coast for another loading operation.We arrive a day before hari raya and were informed by port control to anchor at the anchorage and were given entry to port and the 2nd day of hari raya.
Right after we alongside on the 2nd day, i rushed to my village after requesting permission from the master and chief officer.I went for a day and came back to ship.Its a bit rushing but at least i got to met my family and that was then.
Hours past and the ship went on a steady course. Positions plotted and checked regularly. Course alteration would be an hour before we head to the open ocean of the Pacific.Fishing craft were sighted but none of them were a concern to the safety of navigation but continous monitoring is made to ensure it is safe.
Radio chatter from channel 16 came back alive, but this time its the Taiwanese trawlers with their stadium lights turns darkness into pasar malam or padang futsal at sea.The weather is fine and the skies were clear.
I handed over my watch to the 2nd officer at 0014H. He said that the crew were busy with the preparations a while ago and its still meriah. Got karaoke lagu raya and kugiran tin milo beramai-ramai in the galley.I laughed and look forward to join them. After giving a few last details to the 2nd officer i went down to join the commotions.
MORNING OF HARI RAYA
The prayers were made at the community room with the captain as imam. I was on watchkeeping duty that morning so i cant attend.
The atmosphere were just like at home, and the only different thing is you were with your mates who had to left their love ones back at home. Its our duty and were obliged to carry them out no matter what happened.
The main course of the feast is the reknowned kambing panggang,ikan steam and ayam golek along with the usual hari raya dishes of lemang instant, rendang, nasi himpit adabi and kuah kacang plus sate and various other dishes from east and west coast of Malaysia, not to mentioned were having spaghetti,fries and lots of junk foods for hari raya all which is served buffet style and could really match any of our ministers open houses.
I had my share of feast on the bridge, brought by the stewards for me and my AB. The AB had his cellphone filled with lagu raya so we end up layan all the songs troughout watch.Its a good thing that we went to the Pacific ocean to the other side of the world during the morning of hari raya where traffic is almost none and were really alone in the middle of the ocean.
Today there will be some games and more karaoke.The PS2 is fully booked for Winning Eleven matches i guess.Put up my name also for the afternoon match against my chief officer.Other would head to the bridge and call their family using the sattelite phone.Tomorrow will be another holiday for the crew before all of us return to normal routine the day after.
While there is still chance we will have ourselves a good time celebrating hari raya although were far away from our families and love ones.
-come to sea and see for yourself-