Sailing Soul (dedicated to Haji Kasam from Mandvi Kutch)

Sailing Soul (dedicated to Haji Kasam from Mandvi-Kutch)

Dear friends,

This is real life story of my friend Haji Kasam-a seventy years old sailor from Mandvi, Kutch. Mandvi is small coastal town, located 60 km south of Bhuj(India)which is famous for wooden ship building.

I have been touring people around Kutch and Mandvi is one of the “Must see” town.

Once I was wandering on the main street of Mandvi along with some tourists, showing them around, explaining how the ships are being built, history of the town and so on, I met this sailor-Haji Kasam, who was sitting right under one big ship and chatting with his friends. Seeing me, guiding tourists, he welcomed us and offered us cup of tea. I introduced myself and they (Haji Kasam & his friends) did themselves. Most of them were wearing white cloths and netted Islamic hats. They were retired sailors. Haji Kasam told us about how those ships were being built, what kind of woods they use, how long it take to built one big ship and goods they used to transport across the Arabian Sea. Some of them told us about their sailing adventures and places they’ve had sailed to, that included some European countries which amazed me because I have never been into the Sea. Anyway after a while we moved in to the town to see the colourful market.

Few weeks later, once again I visited Mandvi with some tourists. This time I knew them by name and we were like friends. Again Haji Kasam offered us tea and shared few more sailing stories but this time he mentioned about one ship tragedy in the middle of the Sea, in which, he lost one of his son. We were sorry to hear that but that’s the way sailors live and die, he explained with neutral expression. Every time when I brought tourists to Mandvi, we spend some time with Haji Kasam and his friends, very friendly elderly sailors. It became part of my regular tours.

Sometimes he used to call and ask me when I would visit him next. It seemed that Haji Kasam was enjoying meeting me and people that I bring to him.

“Isn’t it interesting to meet such hospitable and friendly people in this busy world? And that’s the way you and I, have met” 

Anyway my tour season (winter) was over so I went on holidays with my family.

One day I got call from my friend Haji Kasam. He told me that he is hospitalized in Bhuj due to having breathing trouble.

I told him “I am out of station and will return in 2 weeks but if you need any help/assistance I can arrange for you

And he replied “No I don’t need. I just wanted to meet you

(Feelings: sometimes our family or friends don’t need any help/support from us. What they really want is to spend some good time with us. That’s all. And that means a lot to them than anything else we can offer to them from distance)

I told him that I would see him when I would get back to Bhuj and he replied in his way “Inshallah” It means “If Almighty Allah/God wills”

After 2 weeks when I got back home, I forgot to call him. Yesterday suddenly I thought of him and realized that I was supposed to call him. I tried to call him but his phone was switched off so I tried contacting his friend-Adam who informed me that Haji Kasam passed away few days ago 🙁 I had nothing more to say or express how I felt. Whole day I kept thinking of him and of time that we had spent.  Nothing can be done now but prayer “May his soul rest in peace

Today morning I decided to write it down and share it with you my friends. Even though life is busy, one has schedules, priorities, lack of time; I hope we don’t miss any possible opportunity to spend time with our loved ones.

-Kuldip Gadhvi