Today is May 1 and it is also known all over the world as the May Day. In Europe May 1 used to be celebrated as the day Spring returned to make the earth green and hence it was always a public holiday. By sheer coincidence, this year, May 1 is a holiday all over the world, being Sunday, the day when Lord rested according to Christian belief. In medieval Europe, in Greek and Roman rituals in particular on May 1 people gathered wildflowers, green branches, created floral garlands and even crowned May King and Queen. They used to decorate May Tree and then dance around it holding hands and singing joyful songs of fertility. In New England though, across the Atlantic (in America) such rituals were considered pagan and never proliferated.
Later in the year 1889, the International Socialist Congress demarcated this day in the support of worker’s and labor’s rights leading to this day being celebrated in many countries as the day of workers accompanied by parades and gala ceremonies and hailing the labor unions. Post WW II, in all the Soviet Bloc countries May Day became very important and of political significance. Though post breakup of the Soviet Union, its significance declined May Day is still observed as worker’s holiday or as Labor Day in many countries worldwide. In the current year, being a Sunday, the worker’s lost one extra day of rest.
Now what’s Mayday?
Every seafarer and aviator knows this international distress signal by heart and so do I. Thankfully during my 24 years of seafaring life I did not have to make this call more than twice though I was at the receiving end of this call many times. Being a navigator all my life, I was mostly found on watch or dozing off-watch by the chart table in bridge, above which the distress radio box would normally be. Loud or faint static always emerged out of the black box and sometimes the distress calls of some unknown mariner or flier, amidst the darkness of the oceans and black skies. If we could then we did either relay the message to those who were nearer or we went to the area to render help. Sometimes we saved lives, sometimes we were too late. And in all those occasions I used to wonder what must have gone through the dying sailor as he kept calling Mayday, Mayday into the dark night but none came to his rescue! What he must have endured, what were his frights and demons that he had to fight, if he fought them at all. Of whom did he think with his last breath, and what must have been his dying words. I have always wondered and also wondered if I was at that end, calling Mayday and none came to my rescue into the dark night. What would I do! I am no more in the Navy and I don’t sail or fly any more across the oceans of the world but I do go to the mountains which are even more remote than the remotest oceans since out there, there’s no such Mayday and no such international distress call.
Today as I write this short nonsensical post, sitting in my house, within the safe confines of a home, my heart is crying Mayday for the one who can rescue me but I don’t get any response. Yet I am sinking. Will I get a response, I wonder. Will I be rescued, I wonder. For I cannot swim alone any more. The ocean depths and the icy heights of the world did not deter me enough to scream Mayday, but today I do so. Mayday…
Will I get a response!