Life of Pi (the interview) – Apollinaire

This is my own version of the Interview from Life of Pi. What I could not remember, I invented.

The bold font I have used is to show the two men talking between them in Japanese which I have then translated into English. I hope you like it!




Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Hello Mr. Patel. My name is Tomohiro Okamoto. I have come here with my assistant Mr. Atsuro Chiba. We have heard about your survival at sea. May we ask you a few questions?

Pi Patel: Yes of course.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Thank you, that is very kind. Now, Atsuro-kun, seek and learn, ok?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes, Okamoto-san.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Is the tape recorder on?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes, Okamoto-san.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Good.

Pi Patel: Did you drive all the way from Tokyo?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: No, we just drove down from Long Beach, California.

Pi Patel: Was it a good drive?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes, it was very beautiful, thank you.

Pi Patel: I’m a little hungry.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Would you like a cookie?

Pi Patel: Yes please!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto hands over a cookie.

Pi Patel: Thank you!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Your welcome Mr. Patel. It’s only a cookie. Now, could you explain to us in the most possible detail as you can the explanation of the Japanese cargo ship from the company Oika and how you have survived all this time in a small lifeboat in the wild Pacific Ocean?

Pi Patel: Yes, of course.

The story.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Very interesting!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: [wiping tears off his eyes with a handkerchief with Japanese blossoms on it] -sniff- What a story… -sniff-

Pi Patel: Thank you. May I have another cookie?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes of course. Atsuro, are you waiting for the bus or something?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: But he’s already had plenty. He’s not even eating them. He just stacks them up behind his pillow.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Just give him the cookie. Mr. Patel, we would like to have a break and discuss the story and we will come back to you in a few minutes.

Pi Patel: Yes, of course.

[Mr. Atsuro Chiba hands Pi the cookie as the two men leave the room.]

A few minutes later…

[Two men enter the room again and sit back down on their chairs.]

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: I’m sorry Mr. Patel but we don’t believe your story.

Pi Patel: Sorry?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: It just doesn’t make sense. It’s impossible for you to have survived exactly 227 days at sea with a tiger, a hyena and barely any food in a tiny lifeboat. It just doesn’t make sense.

Pi Patel: Doesn’t make sense! I told you the story and this is all you have to say! It doesn’t make sense! Now, let me tell you something. Lifeboats, tigers and oceans exist. Just because they haven’t come together before it doesn’t mean that they can’t!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Please calm down Mr. Patel. It isn’t that we don’t believe you, it’s just that it doesn’t exist. The tiger in the lifeboat, the Orangutan can’t float on bananas, the-

Pi Patel: Excuse me, but bananas do float.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: No they don’t.

Pi Patel: Yes they do.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: I’m sorry Mr. Patel but bananas cannot float on water.

Pi Patel: Yes they do. Here, see for yourself. I’ve got three bananas right here. [Pi brings out three bananas from under his pillow.]

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: What else has he got down there? He’s running a miniature restaurant underneath his bedsheets!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: [Ignoring  Mr. Chiba and taking the bananas] Thank you.

Pi Patel: There is a sink over there. You can go and check.

[Both the men go over to the sink on the other side of the wall and turn the tap on. There is a distant sound of gushing water.]

Pi Patel: [Shouting] SO?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: [distantly] They’re floating.

Pi Patel: What did I tell you?

[Both the men walk back into the room]

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes, but it would take a lot of bananas to hold up an adult orang-utan.

Pi Patel: And it did.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Never the less Mr. Patel, when you reached the island, what about the carnivore mini trees, the-

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Sorry to interrupt, but my uncle knows a lot about botany. He lives in the country near Hita-Gun. He’s a bonsai master.

Pi Patel: A what?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: A bonsai master. You know bonsai are those little trees.

Pi Patel: You mean shrubs?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: No, I mean trees. They are very short trees, only about two feet tall.

Pi Patel: What?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes. They can be very old. My uncle has one that is over three hundred years old. They are very delicate. You can carry them around in your arms.

Pi Patel: [looking shocked] Three hundred year old trees that you can carry around with you?!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Just a minute please. Atsuro, with all due respect to your uncle who lives in the country near Hita-Gun, we are not here idly to talk about botany.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Sorry Okamoto-san. I was only trying to help.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Now, where were we,…

Pi Patel: Do you believe that I we first reached an island before hitting the coast of Mexico or not?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Errrr..Nnnot really.

Pi Patel: Then how do you explain the meerkat bones in the lifeboat?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Maybe they were banana bones! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Atsuro, shut up!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: I’m very sorry, Okamoto-san. It’s the fatigue.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Your bringing our service into disrepute!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Very sorry, Okamoto-san. Very sorry.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Now, where were we?… Oh yes, the meerkat bones, (gives an angry stare at Mr. Chiba), they could’ve been mongoose bones.

Pi Patel: The mongooses at the zoo didn’t sell. They’re still in India.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: They could’ve been shipboard pests on the tsimtsum and snuck into the lifeboat with you.

Pi Patel: Mr. Okamoto, I think Richard Parker or I would’ve realised if there was a mongoose living in our lifeboat.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Ah, yes. This boy is a tough nut to crack. Ok, Mr. Patel, you win, but what we would like to know is what really happened (Mr. Chiba nods his head in agreement).

Pi Patel: What really happened! Oh the arrogance of big city folk! You could’ve just told me to save my voice for an hour instead of telling you the story. You should’ve seen Richard Parker! Teeth like scimitars!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: What are scimitars?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Atsuro-kun, instead of asking stupid vocabulary questions, why don’t you make yourself useful! Mr. Patel, please calm down. We would just like to know what really happened.

Pi Patel: So you want a story with no Orang-utans.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: No!

Pi Patel: No hyenas or rats.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: We don’t want them!

Pi Patel: No zebras or meerkats.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: That’s right!

Pi Patel: And no tigers.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Oh, please, no more tigers.

Pi Patel: So you want a dry, yeastless story.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Errr, yes.

Pi Patel: Give me a minute please.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes, of course. I think we’re finally getting somewhere.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes.

Pi Patel: Here’s another story.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Good.

Pi Patel: The ship sank. It made a monstrous metallic noise. Things bubbled at the surface and then vanished beneath me. I found myself kicking in the dark Pacific Ocean. I was all alone. I headed for the lifeboat. I wouldn’t have made it of the cook hadn’t thrown me the lifebuoy. I held onto the life buoy and clambered aboard the lifeboat. The cook and the Taiwanese sailor were already onboard. The Taiwanese sailor had badly broke his leg from jumping from the ship. His bone pierced through his skin and was bleeding dramatically. He was so handsome. He had no facial hair at all and he had a lovely round, flat nose and amazing almond slim eyes. He was simply beautiful. Mother clung onto some bananas and made it to the lifeboat. We awoke the next morning. The cook ate flies on the boat. He caught them with his hands and shoved them in his mouth. His mouth was a real garbage heap. It was disgusting. The cook offered some to us. We simply smiled with politeness and nodded our heads saying no. The sailor was yelling with pain. The saddest part of it all was that we couldn’t speak one single word of English. He We drained him of pus every day, but nevertheless it still got worse. Finally, the cook spoke up. He said that if we don’t cut off his leg he would die. We agreed that if it was the best for the poor sailor, it was our and his only option. The cook got out a knife. He worked quickly. The sailor howled with pain. Mother and I held both of his hands. I could feel his pulse getting quicker and quicker on his wrist, and his chest rose and fell rapidly. Finally, the leg fell off. Mother and I immediately let go of his hands and moved away from him in shock. He was screaming so loudly.
Later that day, I was about to throw the sailors leg overboard when the cook shouted “no!”. I turned to him and asked him why. “Don’t throw it overboard, we can use it as bait, that was the whole point”. He seemed to regret his last words for the rest of his short life. Mother turned to him violently.
“What do you mean that was the whole point! Are you saying that you cut off this boys leg just like to get fishing bait!” Yelled mother.
“Our supplies are running low. We need to some fishing or we’ll die.”
“This poor boy has lost his leg for you to use it as bait! Oh you animal! I should’ve never trusted some savage beast like you!”
Blood was pouring all over the lifeboat. The sailor died. He crumbled away silently. The cook butchered his body. From the toes to the head, he was all gone. As the cook came up to the neck, mother shouted in tears “Could you at least cover his face with a blanket. It is horrible to see such a magnificent, handsome face connected to such a sight beneath!”
The cook sprang upon the sailors head and scalped him. Mother and I vomited.

We caught the cook eat the sailors body. He snuck a piece into his mouth trying to be discreet, but mother caught him and yelled ” Oh you savage beast! He is your own kind! He is human! How could you, you, you ANIMAL!”
“Tastes like pork” he replied calmly.
Mother and I ignored him.

The cook killed my mother. It was a stormy day. I caught a turtles back flipper. I didn’t have the strength to heave it overboard. I let it go. The cook slapped me. Mother slapped him. Mother told me to go to the raft. I jumped onto it. I missed and landed with a splash in the fresh salty sea. I scrambled for the raft. I though mother would jump on after me. But she didn’t. They carried on fighting. He twisted her wrist. She shrieked and fell to the ground. The knife appeared. It went up and down Ito mothers body. I was in tears. What a disgusting man. He threw something onto the raft. I picked it up. There was mothers head in my hands. I let it sink into the red spot of the Pacific Ocean. I spent the rest of the night staring at him. He ate. I stared. He could’ve cut the raft loose.  But he kept me around.

The next morning I killed him. I climbed aboard the lifeboat. He was awake. He had seen me. The knife was on the bench all along. We both knew it. He could’ve had it in his hands from the start. But he didn’t. He was the one who put it there. We fought. I picked up the knife and stabbed him in the stomach. He grimaced and stayed standing. I stabbed him again. He still stood up straight. He raised his head slightly. Did he mean something by this? I took that he did. I stabbed him on his Adam’s apple. He dropped down to the ground, dead. I ate him. He tasted much better than turtle flesh. I survived.

[Long silence]

Pi Patel: Is there any part of that story that you found difficult to understand?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: What a horrible story.

[Long silence]

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Both the Taiwanese sailor and the zebra broke a leg, did you notice that?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: No I didn’t.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: And the Hyena bit off the zebras leg just as the cook chopped off the sailors!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Ohh, Okamoto-san, you see a lot!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: And the Hyena killed the Orang-utan just as the cook killed his mother!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes!

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: His stories match. So the sailor is the zebra, the Orang-utan is his mother, the cook is…well, the hyena which means he’s the tiger!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: But what does this mean, Okamoto-san?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: I don’t know. Mr. Patel, may you explain to us more about what happened when the ship sunk?

Pi Patel: Yes, of course.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: So did it sink stern first?

Pi. Patel: No, it sunk bow first.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Are you sure?

Pi. Patel: Yes.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Very interesting. And you said you heard an explosion?

Pi Patel: Yes, it was very loud.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Could you tell from which part off the ship it was coming from?

Pi Patel: I’m not sure. All I know is that it was very loud.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Did you notice any of the crew being under alcohol at all.

Pi Patel: No.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Did you think they were fit?

Pi Patel: Oh no. Most of them were tremendously fat.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: You said there was a storm, am I correct.

Pi Patel: There was thunder, rain and wind and the waves were pretty high.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: May I ask how high?

Pi Patel: Very high! Maybe about 20 feet or more.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: That’s actually very modest.

Pi Patel: Not when your in a lifeboat.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: yes of course, but for a cargo ship.

Pi Patel: Yes.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Did you see any other ships crash into the tsimtsum?

Pi Patel: No.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Any rocks that you saw?

Pi Patel: Nope.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: And did you hear any other noises apart from the explosion?

Pi Patel: A thousand.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: I mean that might explain the sinking of the ship.

Pi Patel: No.


Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: When Oika realised something was wrong, it was too late, you were too far out for air rescue.

Pi Patel: Ah.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: We give up. The explanation of the tsimtsum Is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Yes.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Thank you Mr. Patel. I think we’d better head off. It has been a pleasure to meet you and talk to you about the sinking of the tsimtsum.

Pi Patel: I lost my whole family.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: We’re very sorry, Mr. Patel.

Pi Patel: Not as much as I am.

[Long silence]

Pi Patel: Before you leave, may I ask you a question?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes, certainly.

Pi Patel: Which story do you prefer?

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: The one with the animals.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Mmm, let me see. Yes, definitely the one with all the animals.

Pi Patel: And so it goes with God.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: What did he say?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: I don’t know.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Oh look-he’s crying.

[Long silence]

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Well, it has been a pleasure to meet you Mr. Patel. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do.

Pi Patel: Thank you my brothers. I wish you the best of luck as well.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Bye bye, Mr. Papel.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: [Fake laughing] he, he, I’m very sorry Mr. Patel. [takes Mr. Chiba aside], Atsuro-kun, How many times have I told you, it’s PATEL, not papel!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Very sorry, Okamoto-san.

Pi Patel: would you like some cookies for the road?

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Yes, that would be nice!

[Pi takes out six chocolate chip cookies from under his pillow.]

Pi Patel: Here, three each.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Thank you.

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Thank you.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: Bye bye, Mr. Patel!

Mr. Atsuro Chiba: Bye!

Pi Patel: God be with you my brothers.

Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto: and to you too, Mr. Patel.


In his letter to Piscine Molitor Patel, Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto recalled the interrogation as to being “difficult and memorable”. Here is the letter he wrote to him:

Sole survivor of the Japanese cargo ship “tsimtsum” cannot explain major reason of sinking. Survivor claims that the ship sunk very quickly, stern first. Survivor also mentioned that he heard an explosion onboard the ship before sinking. No ships around the area have seen anything after the sinking of the”tsimtsum”.  As for the sole survivor, Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel, Indian citizen is a brave and courageous story of his tough journey to survival. Very few castaways can claim to have survived as long as Mr. Patel, and none especially in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.

From Apollinaire 🐅

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