Lost at sea — the unwanted pirate's tale.
*Trigger warning for Human Trafficking and Pirates*
Illustration by Claire Laitinen (The Continuist, Graphic Designer) IG: @clairelaitinen
By Khushil Doshi (he/him, IG: @khushil_me)
The hardwood creaks on my back, the ocean spray is bitter, sunlight flares through the torn canvas. I wake up to three others on the boat, two strange men and an ashy, stolen child like me. Like me? Why do I think he is like me? I look to the ribs in my skin, the dirt in my nails and my single rag. I am trapped in a foreign body; I am being trafficked.
The mind can conjure complex delusions; this could be delicate. Or has my spirit taken unto a new body as a form of rebirth? Is it “a new life” that I’m hallucinating or are the memories of my past life a sign of insanity? If I call myself crazy, will I start to think this is my one and true life? I am hungry, thirsty and cold; I am being trafficked.
I put a stop to my curiosity so that I can take a moment to stand up. One of the men looks at me and I cannot feel the heat of the sun; my heart feels colder. Colder? If I don’t go back to my life soon, I fear the past pain of this one will torture then corrupt me. I walk over to the other child, and I wonder who he is, who I am. I have heard about this life, I’ve seen ad campaigns and documentaries about this life, I have consistently failed to value this life as a life. I talk to the child; I think differently when I speak in Somali. I think, therefore, I am being trafficked.
My rag is the only thing on my person, my only possession and, to my understanding, my only identity. My name is just noise without government recognition. If I were to die, my scream would not be heard; if it was heard, it would not be documented; if not documented it would not be cared for. I’ve been in this body for maybe an hour; why do I think so intensely about my death? I need to talk to my brothers; I am not accepting this life… But I can’t. I have nothing and nobody. I think about the phone that I don’t have, the family that I can’t reach, the bare minimum of humanity that is now alien to my life. A million hopes run through my brain, and as they are shot down one by one, I shrivel smaller and smaller. I have nothing and nobody, not even myself. A solitude boat in a vast ocean, and I am claustrophobic of my own body. I am alone, but I cannot accept that I am being trafficked.
I begin to hyperventilate, and one man walks over. I am stiff in his glare – as if I had been struck and paralyzed in place. Before he reaches me, the other calls for him and points to the horizon. Their dialogue intensifies as the sound of a distant speedboat roars through the empty blues of the sea and the sky. Their caution turns to fearful action as they uncover a sheet next to them and pick up an AK-47 each. The enemy of my enemy is our saviour? The speedboat does not slow down as I see the ragged men with rifles. They rush by us once; I am numb from the noise alone. The other child and I drop to the ground for cover. He has been shot dead; these are not our saviours. They pass by, and with more shots, I check my body for damage. Safe. I look up – one dead and one fallen to the ground, his gun between us. I lunge and grab the gun out of fear— absolute power in my hands, my breath steadies. I cannot commit violence; I have never chosen to. If I break this cycle, I can be the change; I need to. I can be their escape; this could be my escape.
Or am I crazy? After all, I have always wanted to be a pirate.