Children of the Lesser Gods

Feb 13, 2005
Author: Capt. Qaisar Qayyum

“Our tanker vessel arrives to discharge cargo after 15 days voyage. The ships complement includes Pakistani officers, Filipino and Turkish crew.

US Immigration arrives.

All ships complement is summoned outside master's cabin.
They will be granted shore passes!

An announcement:

Filipinos may go, they are issued with shore passes.
Turks may go, they are issued with shore passes.
All Pakistani nationals may come in one by one.

Prints of all ten fingers are taken and recorded for future reference.
Photographs are taken:
A placard with name and passport number in hand:
Please face the camera.
Face right.
Face left.

They cannot be issued a shore leave pass.
Reason? Government Policy.

A thought:

Feels familiar?
I have watched this in movies!

Am I a criminal?
Am I a terrorist?
Did I break a law?
Did I commit a murder or rape?
Did I kidnap?
Did I hijack?



I am sailing for the last 22 years, don't they know?
I am a seaman, don't they understand?
I am not interested in politics but my country is said to be their front line state!
In newspapers I read that my country is trying extensively to curb terrorism and their government has shown its satisfaction over the actions taken.


I am treated so meanly?
I will never enter this country.

Again BUT

I have to work on ships for a living.
I will have to bear this all - I am a seaman.

We cannot issue you a shore pass.
Your application has been rejected.
Please sign here.
Thank you.

Ship is leaving:

US Immigration arrives again.

Only Pakistanis are summoned in the master's cabin.

Actually it is a formality - The immigration officer was decent enough...
Is this your passport?
Is this your photograph?
So you are still onboard.
Thank you.

A thought:

But I was never granted a shore leave!
I was never allowed to step down from the gangway!
There was security on the jetty!
How do they expect me to leave the ship?

I am seaman.
I have no rights.
No one will fight on my behalf.
I might be fined.
I might be jailed.

Better be quiet.
And keep on sailing.
For this is the only way I know to earn a living.

I will go on shore leave when I go on leave.
With my family
With my kids.
At my home.

I am a Pakistani seaman.”

The writer is Capt. Qaisar Qayyum and features on his website, and is reproduced with permission.



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