I am Wakashio. I am speaking from the dark depth of the ocean. 23rd September is my birthday. I have been destroyed and send to the black pitch depth of the sea but my story shouldn’t be buried in this deepness. The story of my love with a beautiful country Mauritius. I don’t want people of Mauritius to remember me as an ‘environmental emergency’. I want them to remember me as someone who fell in love with their land at first sight. My only fault was that I came too close. And closeness burns. A person from land can love the sun from far but never try to go near him, he will burn you. Same I, a creature of water should have loved the land from far. But I dared to come near and see what happened to me. I am buried deep in the sea. Sea never forgives. The sea which looks beautiful from the surface, scares me here in the black lowness. it is my destiny now. But my story should have a different destiny. This story should not contain the blackness of oil that came out of me and destroyed not only the beauty of this country but also a part of its soul. My story of loving a country should have a color of blue sky and green land. Consider it as my last wish. Only living things have right for wishes, but I will not leave this world unless I tell my side of the story.
So here is my story. I was built by the Universal Shipbuilding Corporation, Japan. My construction was started On 23 September 2004. In our shipping industry language, we call it ‘Laying Down’ of a ship. The day my construction as a ship was officially started. The day when my soul entered the first part of this bulk carrier. The day when I became part of this world. Soon I was growing up listening to the stories of the sea around me. I was fascinated to hear some stories. The stories of bravery of Ships and their captains. Stories of survival in the betraying weather. Few stories scared me, the stories of sinking of a ship and not coming back to the surface. Soon I have learned that Sinking is the death of a ship. The makers of me said I will be a fighter by nature. I fought for many days in the sea of Mauritius but it was my last fight for survival. I gave up one day.
Anyways the day came when I was completed and was taken in water for the first time in my life. It is called ‘Launching of a ship’ in our language. Launching in year 2007 was a big affair. It was celebrated as my birthday. As if I have come out of the womb of my mother into the world. Coming out of the workshop was like coming out of the womb for me. The moment I touched the surface of the water I felt like I started breathing. That was the ultimate feeling that cannot be expressed in words. Consider it something near to soul and body becoming one. During my ceremonial launching, many rituals were performed for good luck. The christening was done by breaking a sacrificial bottle of champagne over my bow. Everyone around me was happy. After two and a half years of making I was finally ready for the ocean. My name was announced from the bow aloud for the whole world to hear…Wakashio, Wakashio, Wakashio…I was floating on the water in happiness. I didn’t know how many people heard my name at that time but today everybody in the world knows my name and for all the wrong reasons. It hurts. Everyone thinks they knew the whole story but they don’t. nobody knew about my struggle for the last 16 years. How I came back to my port to tell the stories of my journey. How I inspired other smaller ships. How I helped to transfer the food which may be on your plate right now. But one mistake and all my struggles are forgotten.
Life continued with water all around me. Ocean became my home. I wasn’t afraid of storms anymore. I knew how to take care of myself and the people on board. I was happy and satisfied with doing my job. And there was my captain who always took care of me like a partner. Who promised to never abandon me. I was content with that one promise. And then the day came when we left china on 4 July this year. We stayed at Singapore port for some time then continued our journey towards brazil. There was a party going on onboard. Everyone was happy. The weather was ruthless and the officers made some changes in my path. They didn’t realize but I felt it immediately that with this path I will be going closer to the shore. I should be scared.
Going near a shore is not good for a ship. There are reefs near the shore. We ship are made for deep water, not the shallow water. We should be afraid of shallow water. But I wasn’t afraid, I was excited. I will be finally seeing the island about which I have heard so many stories. I slowly started moving near and near to the shore. I should have stopped. But it was beyond me to stop myself. As if the tides were taking me near to my destiny. As if a magnet was attracting me. And I kept moving. And then I saw, I saw the green land, blue water, and white beaches. Just like a pearl sitting in a shell. Mauritius appeared before me. And just like that, I fell in love. The first love of my life. I a creature of water fell in love with the land. I felt like I wanted to stay here all my life. I knew it would be this place where I will rest in peace. At that moment I didn’t realize what I was exactly thinking but these were my thoughts when I first saw Mauritius. I had finally found a part of my soul in this part of the world.
I was dying to touch this land, suddenly there was a strong collision. Everything became blur for few minutes, When I regained consciousness, I realized that I collided with the coral reef. I was hurting. I should have cried but instead, I found myself laughing. The punishment for love was given to me so soon. I was punished for loving land. But it was too late for anything. I was helpless. Nothing could undo what happened with me.
I was crying with pain, my lover not just a piece of land but a proud nation was standing in front of me. All I could do was just stare at him and forget the pain. All the officers on the ship kept running In and out in front of me. Day changed into night and night into day. I just kept staring at the green-blue color of peace in front of me. The green beauty in the day and gleaming light in the night. I stopped counting the days. After two weeks, oil started seeping from me. I got scared. This should not have happened. This is not good for the sea on which I float proudly. This is very bad for those creatures who find shelter in this part of the ocean. The oil came out and went away. I kept looking helpless. My heart broke at the sight of blackness seeping in the turquoise blue water.
In the coming days, crowds started gathering on the shores. They were cleaning the oil and I kept watching helplessly. I wanted to do something to save this land but moving was beyond me now. Inside I was suffocating and breaking day by day. And one day I split into two. Another wave of oil spilled out of me. I was being held responsible for ruining this beauty. From Japan, India, Mauritius to America, and Rome, it was discussed how Wakashio imposed an environmental emergency in Mauritius. And I kept watching silently. A few days later a part of me was pulled by another ship and taken away into the deep sea. I could not understand why this was being done. Then the process of drilling me started, then I realized I was being destroyed. In our language, it is called scuttling. The hand which uses to mend holes in me from time to time was drilling holes in me.
I was filled with water for three days. Everyone around me was waiting for the moment when I could not bear the weight of my existence and go to the infinite depths of the sea. Whenever a ship sinks, her captain is always near. I had heard the story of Edward Smit, the Captain of Titanic, who went down with the ship along with the other 1500 passengers. But Titanic got only 2 hours after hitting the ice rock.
Captain Smith climbed the bow of his ship and shouted to his crew that save women and children and if they get a chance save themselves. According to the book as long as a single person is on the ship, the captain cannot leave the ship. The captain should sink with the ship but he cannot leave. I wondered all my life, does a doctor die with his patient, No. Does the existence of God end at the end of his world? No. Then why did such injustice happen to the captain of the ship?
When I was drowning, my captain was not near me to watch me go in the dark deepness. He is in prison. I want to believe there were tears in his eyes when he was informed of my scuttling. I want to believe he cried for me. Three days later, that moment also came when I felt like the time has come. I cannot take it anymore. It is good to go away from this superficial world. I am the problem. It’s good to let the problem die.
I was ready to disappear in the sea. I had loved this land of Mauritius, then I should die in this soil. But not like this. Not at all like this. This shouldn’t be the end of my love. people will remember me as a problem, this is my destiny. Destiny to be hidden in the black depths of the sea. The darkness of death surrounds me.Now the only place for me is the lap of this earth. The silence of the depth scares me. Now the sunlight will not reach me. Now the sea will be seen from below. There is a different world inside the surface of the water. Everything looks different below. I was made for the surface. I never wanted to retire in the storeroom for old ships. But I also didn’t desire this fate for myself.
I am MV Wakashio, speaking from the endless depths of the ocean. Under this sea, in the infinite depths, my voice cannot be heard. But, I wish my story reaches you.