Vidya Sanath posted under Book Review on 2024-06-11

Stories of sailors and their ships often remain embedded, in the depths of the sea and are forever lost to the world. 

Author Beetashok Chatterjee’s attempt to ensure the stories are washed ashore to delight and exhilarate readers is noteworthy.

Twelve pithy tales narrated in short, crisp sentences are a joy to read. The stories revolve around the trials and tribulations of sailors at sea. Each story is unique and the delicate tassel that binds them all together is the voyage, in the sometimes turbulent, and sometimes calm sea. Through the stories, the author has succeeded in driving home a point. The only thing that remains common on land and in the sea is human sentiments and emotions. Be it romance, joy, grief, hopelessness, friendship, or loneliness. 

The sailor is at his most vulnerable state when he is at sea. Loneliness lashes at him fiercer than the tallest waves lashing at the ship. How he manages to brush his emotions aside, regain his composure, and sail through the sea's troughs and crests forms the book's highlight.

The stories traverse through different voyages, ports, countries, and languages but make an immediate connection with the readers. The lavishly splattered technical terms in the stories take the layman on a jolly good voyage with the seafarers.

Stories of the eruption of fire on the ship that catches the sailors unawares and a pirate attack in the middle of the sea make for a nail-biting and riveting read. The author, a seaman for more than forty years takes the narration a notch higher, making it come alive in the reader’s eyes.

Whether you love the sea or not, these stories propel you to envisage the life of a seafarer and at a few places, the readers can’t help but empathize with them.

For me, the story, ‘The Visitor’ stands out for its mere simplicity. The story revolves around a sparrow, a common unnoticed bird on land but the one that creates quite a stir being a visitor on the ship. 

The impressive book cover and the illustrations at the end of each page sets the mood of the choppy seas.

I urge readers to take this cruise with the captain of the sea and the book's author, Beetashok Chatterjee. I am sure after being enthralled by the book, you will but say, “Aye, aye, Captain!”