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Monday, 7 May 2018

It’s either they saw us and didn’t come to our aid or they genuinely didn’t see us. Picking up stranded migrants in distress could sometimes be a bureaucratic nightmare for the rescuer. Something all captains tried to avoid at all costs.

It dampened our spirits but our leader wouldn’t let it kill our spirits.

“Another ship will come,” he assured us. “Plenty ply this route.”

We never knew he was a maritime expert.

By mid-afternoon, our situation became more precarious. We were nearly out of drinking water. The women and children were crying. Their tongues were dry and swollen and the sun burnt their skin. Our friends the dolphins had left us and even the seagulls kept their distance.

In the distance, big black ugly clouds were building up. We started to pray for deliverance. There wasn’t much more we could do. We were not going to last another night let alone survive the battering of another storm. The sea we had looked at lovingly only days before was fast looking to become our watery grave.

As the last rays of the day disappeared over the horizon and evening fell, so did our hopes. Even our self-proclaimed leader became unusually quiet. We were hungry. We were tired. We were thirsty. We were beaten. All we could do was hope for a miracle or die.

The water was truly our enemy now. We were at its mercy.

The waves tossed us this way and that way. We still had no engine power. We had no radio to call for help. Somebody even suggested we start a fire and hope somebody would see the rising smoke.  Fire on a boat in the middle of the sea was not a good idea, however controlled it was. We thought of other things we could do. We couldn’t think of much. As night fell and the moon came out, our leader was about to make an announcement when one of the younger boys heard something.

He shouted for us all to be quiet. Then we all heard it. It was coming towards us making a loud thump-thump-thump sound. It came towards us in the fading light like a big bird of prey scouring the sea for a last meal before bed. As it came closer, a searchlight was switched on, its ray illuminating our pitiful condition at the mercy of the sea.

We all cheered when we saw the helicopter. The White Man had come to look for us; probably the Turkish captain had sent them even though we doubted it. We were not going to die in an unmarked watery grave. The White Man had found us. We were going to Europe.

I was weak, dehydrated and tired but in my mind I could see Oxford Street and the Champs Elysees a lot clearer than before

The End

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