Helen of Anarchia: 4. The First Voyage
Laku Janaut, Milak Larkin and Sonlu Arani looked behind towards Anarchia searching the dot of it but it had disappeared from the horizon. All around them was the vastness of the ocean unknown to every single person in the ship. Helena was their home now, and they were the family. Nothing familiar was outside the ship. Laku Janaut was missing Helen, and her mother too.
They had been to some distance in the ocean from Anarchia for fishing but here Anarchia was not even in sight. There was no land to step on outside of Helena. Sonlu Arani sitting aside Milak Larkin was separating different kinds of herbs he had brought with him and keeping them in his own sort of order.
After it became dark, Laku Janaut knew not which direction to go. In the daytime, he could take the help of the sun but now! This was the real bewilderment. He could not say where he was taking Helena. He could not ask the pedallers or anyone else about the direction, how would they know anyway! But again he thought that he was unaware of the destination so it won’t be a big deal to be unaware of the direction. But how about returning back to Anarchia if he can’t be sure of the direction? Helen was just a one-year child now. And Remaj was growing older. Everybody in the crew had their family and they only came for a two-month expedition. No star could be seen because of the clouds. There was no way for Laku to find the direction.
Nobody had asked Laku Janaut how he was going to manage drinking water and Laku Janaut didn’t ask for advice either. He just asked the crew members to load hundreds of water-filled casks and they did so. Nobody calculated whether it would be enough for two months if it didn’t rain or if they did not find any land. Milak Larkin was too late in thinking of drinking water. He thought and thought and got scared. What about drinking water! Milak Larkin thought of asking Laku Janaut on his plans on managing drinking water for the crew.
It was semi dark in the ship. Laku had advised to light only limited number of torches per night. He went up to Laku and asked, ‘do you think that these casks of water will be enough for us for two months?’ Laku’s chain of thoughts broke who was staring the ocean. He looked dazed for a monent then replied, ‘the skies will help us.’ And again after a moment he added, ‘that’s why I chose this season.’
But inside, Laku Janaut knew that while focusing on the technical aspects of the ship he had made big mistakes. He didn’t devise any technique to know the direction and he had not calculated the amount of water they were going to need. First, he had thought of only thirty pedallers with fifteen pedallers in each shift in the initial days of shipbuilding when he had planned the voyage for only three weeks and mistakenly uploaded the water casks only enough for thirty three persons for three weeks. In the clamor of excitement, he had committed great errors. He could decrease the duration of voyage to less than a week and go back to Anarchia and after the rectification of errors he could begin another voyage but he had lost the direction.
The pedallers pedaled whole night in two shifts. Going in which direction no one knew. Laku Janaut could not even sleep for a moment. He could not hand over the charge of the ship to anyone not even to his best friends for the fear that they will know too that they were lost and that there was no way to know which direction they were heading towards.
After the sun rose, Laku Janaut asked Sonlu Arani to steer ship right towards the sun. Sonlu Arani gladly took the responsibilities and steered as he was trained by Laku in Anarchia. Meanwhile, Laku slept.
It was already afternoon when Laku woke up. Bathing during the voyage was forbidden to conserve water. He looked happy at the crews enjoying their meals of dry fruits and meat. After having a little bit of food and water, he went to Sonlu Arani and asked him to take rest. Everyone in Helena were joyous. The pedallers were singing and clapping together. The voyage had made them happy. It didn’t rain last night and Laku Janaut was worried about water now. He was just hoping that some land might just show up. But it didn’t happen the whole day.
The evening began with a drizzle and wind. Laku Janaut was happy. He instructed the crew members to bring out the empty casks to collect water. Soon, the drizzle turned into a downpour and wind into a storm. The crew members of Helena were scared now. Laku Janaut wished it to go away soon. But it didn’t. The control of the ship was out of their hands. The masts broke down! Laku Janaut asked the pedallers to stop the vain pedalling. The storm and the rain lasted whole night and terrified the crew. They were worried what would happen to their families if the ship should sink. The terrifying sounds from the sky instilled fear in them to the bones the whole night.
Early in the morning, after the sky and the wind calmed down Laku Janaut, Milak Larkin and Sonlu Arani along with some crew members came out to the deck with gaping mouths. They could see an island not very far from them.