Chapter no 73

Life of Pi

My greatest wish—other than salvation—was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One I could read again and again, with new eyes and a fresh understanding each time. Alas, there was no scripture in the lifeboat. I was a disconsolate Arjuna in a battered chariot without the benefit of Krishna’s words. The first time I came upon a Bible in the bedside table of a hotel room in Canada, I burst into tears. I sent a contribution to the Gideons the very next day, with a note urging them to spread the range ot their activity to all places where worn and weary travellers might lay down their heads, not just to hotel rooms, and that they should leave not only Bibles, but other sacred writings as well. I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.

At the very least, if I had had a good novel! But there was only the survival manual, which I must have read ten thousand times over the course of my ordeal.

I kept a diary. It’s hard to read. I wrote as small as I could. I was afraid I would run out of paper. There’s not much to it. Words scratched on a page trying to capture a reality that overwhelmed me. I started it a week or so after the sinking of the Tsimtsum. Before that I was too busy and scattered. The entries are not dated or numbered. What strikes me now is how time is captured. Several days, several weeks, all on one page. I talked about what you might expect: about things that happened and how I felt, about what I caught and what I didn’t, about seas and weather, about problems and solutions, about Richard Parker. All very practical stuff.

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