For over two incredible months, the 34-year-old labourer fought valiantly to live as many weaker souls perished around him. Defying the constant cold, a deadly, mysterious poison, and torturous medical treatments, he would confound the young American surgeon struggling to save lives aboard the death-struck “Louisa Baillie” vessel, careening in the storm-swept seas of 1843.
Returning migrant Number 63 proved a tough man, who had left his simple village home and bravely boarded the “Hesperus” five years before, not knowing the forbidden voyage would last several months and an exhausting 11000 miles, taking him to a strange place so far south of the globe, none could speak of it. Hoping for a better life and bearing dreams of riches, he watched several of his “jahajis” or “ship brothers” expire on the crowded vessel, surmounted disease, abuse and extortion at a notorious estate, and survived to see the Indian Ocean.
In time, he too would find his voice, and dared protest with the others, when violent overseers and awful working conditions became too much to bear, or the far horizon remained clear of the billowing sails that signalled the symbolic closure of their contracts. But in the end, he had no more words left. No time remaining…..