Life At Sea Merchant Navy Sailor Stories This Life

Read: Sailor Comes Home- The Wait Is Over!

The thrill of homecoming hasn’t changed from time immemorial.  Coming home to the family makes the work richer, easier, meaningful and more fun. It is tremendous source of joy and excitement after completion of the contract. Also an intense relief regarding your beloved husband’s safe return home, but you can’t keep calm until you see him in person.

The countdown to homecoming

The countdown begins may be when he is still left with a month to go. You ask him if he has communicated his sign off to the office. You need to be so prudent that you make it sound casual, what if the sign off is not lined up? He shouldn’t feel bad; remember it’s even harder for him to be away from home, family and kids. Mine counts his biryanis and me checking the dates and imagining a homecoming scene. It’s sleepless nights again, I guess you get this at least a fortnight of his joining and that of his coming home. So out of 12 months in a year, 1 is spent in roller coaster of emotions, excitement, sadness, and love; all mixed into one! It wasn’t said just like that, God found some of the strongest women and paired them with the sailors. You live on your nerves but there’s joy in that too. You are a sailor’s queen, you very well know that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. You wear a big one at that; it’s a combination of multiple hats that you adorn and so seamlessly switch from one to the other.

The Sign Off

Finally he tells you that the sign off is planned. You know from experience in shipping nothing is planned per say, last minute changes and delays can always happen. It’s a part and parcel of the job. You believe in the sign off only when he sends you his flight details and tells you that he has left the vessel. That’s when you feel the butterflies in your belly. It’s exciting to know that he has traveled the world but now he’s going to be in yours, your home!

You’ve been under the same stars and now under one roof too. Your husband, your heart, your hero is going to be in your home! It’s time to clear his cupboard. I tend to use a bit of his, you know a woman will never find her wardrobe to be spacious enough, no matter how large it is.  It’s time for me to remove my stuff from there; the shifting of things is the ultimate realisation that he’ll be finally home.

Your Time

You have spent days looking at the pictures and reliving moments. Waking up and immediately checking whatsaap or messenger hoping that there’s a message from him. Your smart phone is the link between your hearts. You’d check the last seen time, and imagine what he’d be doing.  You have spent months missing him. It certainly doesn’t get easier but you become stronger. 

The Preparations

You begin with spring cleaning the house, the sailor is finicky about cleanliness, and he’ll clean the bathroom even at 3 am if he feels it needs a bit of sprucing up before he takes his shower. That’s the level of cleanliness acceptable to him. I can never match it, even though I am hotelier. Kids are excited too, they might make welcome home cards, infact you encourage them to. There are flowers waiting at home in a bouquet or the vase.

I remember the first time he came home on sign off after our marriage was to see himself as a new father. The signoff got delayed and sonny arrived earlier than the due date. It was past midnight he switched on all the lights to see both of us; holding our son and laughing and crying at the same time. That picture is etched in my memory forever fresh.

The feeling of homecoming is that important and powerful for all, the sailor and his family. Women I know start cleaning their homes as if it’s Diwali, truly it’s a festival in the real sense when your sailor is home. A visit to the parlour is a must too. Probably you didn’t really bother about it or didn’t have the time, so this visit is a must before he is home. It may not matter to him, he loves you anyways but for you it’s one way of a celebration or a big event. For women no big event is complete without visiting the friendly neighborhood salon. So there you go! Some even dress up at 4 am just to welcome him home, may get the kids ready too. I haven’t ever done that but you never know! Surprises are good sometimes. A friend of mine even prepares delicacies like the kebabs and loads her refrigerator with them so that she can keep calm while her sailor enjoys the kebabs!

The Arrival

On coming home, honeymoon or vacation periods vary, often depending on family plans and work schedules. It is important to share expectations well in advance by simply asking each member of the family what they want to do.  Many sailors want to sleep and eat home cooked meals, while spouses want to go out to fancy restaurants. It’s a good idea to discuss or make plans in advance so that everyone’s desires can be addressed. Children obviously want to spend time with their dad, doing different activities.  They’d want to do all that the mother didn’t allow them to or couldn’t take them out for. My children’s wish list is to go for various sports, playing badminton, football or for a swim. They also have a shopping list in place. For some, the reunion of partners and the ability to share parenting and household responsibilities again is the primary source of relief and joy. Known what works for you and plan accordingly.

We generally plan a vacation, it breaks the routine and we get to spend some quality time together. You may not follow the holiday season as it’s the season when the man is home. Remember mantra is work hard, party harder! No matter what you do make the vacation time memorable!


Emotions: When Your Sailor Is All Set To Join Back

Laxmi Todiwan
Founder, Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH). She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker and a Blogger. A multiple award winning hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades; people engagement, training and development are close to her heart. She writes for hospitality journals, online platforms and columns in the local newspapers. Married to a Master Mariner, Capt. Rajesh Todiwan, she loves to write on the maritime industry as well as the lives and relationships of the fraternity. She expresses her thoughts on her blog and website

3 Replies to “Read: Sailor Comes Home- The Wait Is Over!

  1. Thank you so much Shilpa!
    It’s our story! Every shippy wife who connected with me on this had to say the same thing. We lead challenging lives and just knowing that we aren’t the only ones help. That’s precisely my reasons for writing on sailor’s lives and relationships. Thanks for your kind words.


  2. Totally can relate! yet not knot with my sailor but i can feel and relate my situation with it and little tour to our future too!! well quoted the balance between all emotions and actions…. it is one of tough relation and amazing too. we should be proud of our own kingdom and the invisible crown!

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