I am not going to publish a list about something this time. Today’s post will be different. I don’t know why I thought about this. It hasn’t crossed my mind in a long time. Maybe because recently I was browsing in my Netflix app, trying to find something to watch and I saw Titanic still available for instant viewing. Well, many years ago, I kinda had my own Titanic Experience.
The year was 1999. It was two years after Titanic was released. Like everyone else, I went to see it. I was impressed with the setting, the effect and everything else, but hated the romance.
The Indonesia’s economy was very bad at the time. Suharto was no longer the President, there were wars in parts of the country.
My father, grandmother, aunt and I were on our way to Central Java with an inter-island ship. We couldn’t afford airplane. It took four days to reach our destination.
On our way, the ship made a stop at Maluku island, one of the areas that were considered dangerous at that time. I was watching from the deck as the ship getting closer and closer to the port. There were hundreds of people already waiting. Suddenly I realized. These people were not passengers. They were trying to flee their island.
So of course when the ship finally docked, the people just ran and climbed on it. The security couldn’t stop them. I kept thinking, if we left with that amount of people, we would sink, but we couldn’t stay either because there was a war going on! So yes the ship took all of them. Imagine the fear being inside a ship that could sink at anytime. Also, I kept hearing all these horror stories being told by those people about what they went through.
Thankfully, we made it to our destination alive.
On our way back, we took the same ship, but they had changed the route this time. They wouldn’t make a stop at that island anymore.
However, just one day before we reached our destination. Something happened.
But first, let me tell you a bit about my roommate. I stayed in women quarter with my aunt and grandmother, but we have to share room with three other women.
The first one: Mrs. Maria, a big and tall woman, she mostly kept to herself. When the morning came, she’d go somewhere and only came back when it was bedtime.
The second one: Linda, she was only two years older than me. She hasn’t visited her parents in years, so she was looking forward to see them again. We sort of became friends on that trip. We went to breakfast, lunch and dinner together with the other girl, which is the third one: Maya. She was the same age as me. She travelled with her father.
Her father along with my father were in male quarter of the ship.
We just had lunch on that day. Mrs. Maria as usual was nowhere to be found. Maya was with her father. So it was only my grandmother, aunt, Linda and me. I decided to take a nap. I slept at the top of the bunk bed, while my aunt at the bottom.
I didn’t know how long I was asleep, but I was woken up by the panicking voices from around me.
When I opened my eyes, I saw my grandmother, my aunt and Linda, all of them already with life jackets in their hands. I still had no idea what was going on.
Then my aunt said something, “There’s a fire. We need to get out.”
I was so shocked. I think I jumped from my bunk bed. I went to grab a life jacket, then I realized something. There was only four life jackets in this room! And there were six of us!
And it hit me. I had no idea how to wear one. So I started to read the instructions and I could feel my grandmother pushing me from behind. “Don’t read it now. If Mrs. Maria comes back, she’ll take it from you! She’s bigger than you! She’ll beat you up!”
And I realized that could happen! So we just started running out of our room. I still hold the life jacket in my hand. My aunt had worn it on her hip like an inflatable tire.
I think only Linda got it right. She was crying and kept calling out her parents. “Mom, dad”. It was really sad.
My grandmother was crying too. “The fishes are going to eat us…”
I was surprisingly calm, maybe because I wasn’t totally awake, but I remember saw a glimpse of mountain far away from our window. Meaning, there was a land somewhere that probably reachable, so there was still a chance for us to survive.
My aunt told me we needed to go to the seventh level of the ship because that’s where the lifeboat is. I noticed no one was running around except us. I started to get worried. How if everyone was already on lifeboat and we were left behind.
Then I saw a man just standing there with a strange looking in his eyes. He just staring at us without saying anything.
I remember a scene from Titanic. There was one guy that just simply lost his mind perhaps due to shock or panic. So I assumed this guy just went crazy.
So we kept running.
Then we saw one of deck crews was also wearing a life jacket. At the same time, I thought of my father. How if he doesn’t know. So when my grandmother and aunt were turning left to go to the stairs that would take them to the seventh level, I was turning right to the male quarter area.
This was when I heard the crew said something to my aunt: “Ma’am, where you’re going? This is just a fire drill!”.
I stopped. I turned around and now I was facing my aunt. We were looking at each other. Confused. Then my aunt with the weirdest embarrassing smile look at her face and the most awkward laugh I’ve ever heard from her said : “Heh heh it’s just a drill..”
And then we just started running back as fast as possible to our room. When we got there, we just started laughing and laughing. Of course when we told Maya what happened, she was probably almost fainted from laughing, so did her father.
We almost didn’t wanna go to dinner out of embarrassment. As usual, my father stopped by to our room so we could go to dinner together. We told him what happened. He was laughing, of course, but he also wanted to know the detail why we got fooled by fire drill. He could understand that it happened to my grandmother and aunt, because this was their first trip, but this was my SIXTH trip with the same ship. So he wanted to know why I GOT fooled.
So, here’s what happened according to my grandmother and aunt.
There was an announcement that there was gonna be a fire drill. So it was probably sounding something like this: “Dear passenger, in a few moments, we are going to have a fire drill. When you hear the alarm, you might proceed to the seventh level where you’ll find the lifeboats.”
And to make sure the passengers getting familiar with the alarm, they decided to show them how it’s going to sound like.
According to my grandmother, my aunt said since the alarm is now off meaning there was really a fire! My grandmother and Linda agreed!
Meanwhile, I must be having a really nice time in a dreamland that I didn’t hear a thing.
Later that night, Mrs Maria came back as usual to sleep. I remember the idea that my grandmother had earlier about her beating me up so she could have my lifejacket. We should probably apologize to her for thinking the worst of her.
Then I also thought about the “crazy guy” I saw earlier . Now I know why he looked at us in that way. I imagined he went back to his room and telling his roommates: “You won’t believe what I just saw outside, there were four crazy women running around with life jackets…”