Name: Haydn Cassar
Title: A Journey at Night
I remember as clear as day that dreaded night three years ago. After a long sweltering trip all the way from my war-torn home country of Somalia to Libya, we had illegally taken a small boat for our crossing of the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life.
It had already been three days on the high seas. However, what was meant to be our last night travelling in the Mediterranean did not go off without a hitch. A disaster struck! A storm was brewing. Heavy clouds obscured the moon and churned grimly in the night sky, which was as black as a witch’s Sabbath. A winnowing wind fermented and the boat was tossing and swaying from side to side quite uncontrollably. The crashing of the threatening waves against the hull of the boat was scaring me out of my wits. I clutched on to the side of the boat while I muttered a litany of prayers in hope of salvation. A shroud of rain passed by and whipped down like crystal nails. It stung my face like ice burn and I was drenched to the skin. Thunder rattled overhead and a streaky lightning emblazoned the sky. The sea swells rose as the north wind blew and sped the boat threating to its doom. We were seasick, exhausted, and helpless. The desperate sobbing and wailing of the younger ones tore my heart out. Our boat bobbled like a cork upon the capacious sea and I felt my own mortality. Then the boat keeled over and tilted like the death flop of a mackerel. We helplessly tried to scoop up water from the boat but the panic rose out of control.
Then, there came the one heart-stopping and horrifying moment that changed my life forever. A rogue wave hit us and our boat capsized completely, throwing everyone in the turbulent waters. In a last glimpse of consciousness, I made a last-ditch effort and scampered on to the upturned boat, then ... I fell into oblivion.
I remember then, regaining consciousness within whitewashed walls, on a bed in a hospital ward. I was told I was on the small island of Malta and that I was the only survivor from over three hundred people that attempted the deadly journey with me. My parents were gone, my siblings too and even my dearest friends. The trauma took the best of me and I went through months of psychological treatment and constant surveillance.
After all these years my wound may have healed but the scars of that horrifying night and its aftermaths haunt me every night till this very day.