With the advent of the gray months, when the fury of the sea begins to simmer then bursts into a boil, Tartous braces itself for expected yet never acceptable losses.
Shortly after leaving port in the
This is a repeat and devastating blow we suffer year after year before Tartous goes into a stupefied rendition of mourning. There are no faces to take a last look at, no bodies to burry, no tombstones to sit by and cry. Mothers would go on eternally in a state of animated suspension, staring out of windows, waiting for a phone call or a courier bringing a message of a miracle. Pregnant wives would deliver their babies and raise them alone, never telling their children that their fathers had died.
"He might return one day, your daddy, but I can't tell you when", the lonely woman whispers to her little boy behind invisible tears. "Mommy, when I grow up I want to travel the sea like him" her only child with resilient eyes says. "No my son, never, please promise me, never" she pleads. Stubbornly the boy answers with the only reply he hears from all the young men in the family, "I can't mom, I'm a Tartoussi and I would drown if I step out of the sea".
"Haj Ismail" sunk with 9 other vessels of various flags in the exact same area around the Straight of Kerch on Sunday the 11th of November, 2007. All her seamen were less than 33 years old with a couple of them in their teens still. Some were only sons, others expecting fathers and many not even married yet. A few of her young boys were neighbors I always see when they are onshore.
How can I find it in me to pray for their souls to rest when their families aspire for their return? Is there any solace that they died doing what they loved best? Are they swimming with the mermaids in an emerald sea or looking from the blue of the sky above?
Tartous continues to wait.
Lost at Sea, November 11, 2007 (Walid Mohamad Sabra, Fawaz Mohamad Khaled, Abdul Kader Mustafa Hindi, Ahmad Mustafa Latesh, Ahmad Khaled Monem, Abdallah Asaad Tohme, Mohamad Asaad Ayash, Mohamad Adnan Sayed, Nasser Mahmoud Tohme, Diaa Subhi Abdul Halim Mohamad, Abdul Aziz Jbaret Allah Hasan, Faysal Ahmad Rajab, Housam Haytham Khalil, Hassan Mustafa Zein and Mounir Aziz Abbas)