Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The days when you dared to dream : Anecdotes

Being a boy enticed irresistibly by the freedom of an open horizon, I nodded instantly when my friend Freddy invited me for a fishing trip. When we set out, the air was darkening swiftly after the affluent splendor of a summer day. A propitious sky, marbled with pearly white, turned golden. We walked on the gravel path towards the ferry through the coconut groove. An Ambassador rushed past us grinding its wheels against the gravel and releasing dirt. The loose soil in the groove gave me an oppressive sense of strange sweet odor of fresh earth.

When the freshening breeze struck our brows with a cooling hand, we knew the river was approaching. The mangrove forest on the river bank, an impenetrable screen of foliage, was filled with the melodies of birds and bees. Cranes fished in the shallow waters of the canal flowing into the river. We stepped into the black inky waters of the canal, the floor was sticky with moss and decaying remains of water lilies and coconut leaves. The water in the canal was knee-high. Something moved beneath my feet, leaving a delicious throng of strange sensations of some thing alien and intrusive. It could be a fish, a tiger prawn, a water snake or a crab. We reached the bank where our canoe was fastened to a mangrove tree. Freddie united the canoe, as I was lost in the inexpressible fervor of serenity that surrounded the river.

The sun waned below the horizon, and the random gleam of moon light illuminated the river. We pushed the canoe into the high waters. I was not an experienced hand in setting nets, so I took the oar. Freddie broke into a folk song which I joined with the rhythm of the splashing oars. The tide was high from the west to the east, practically from the sea (Arabian) to the river. During high tide the river water becomes saliferous. The salt crystals dissolved in the water makes it glitter against the moonlight, and with the splashing of the oar you see water droplets become a thousand diamonds pouring out or a thousand pieces of burning coal.

“It is the interval” Freddy called out “we need to cast the net now”. By ‘interval’ he meant the lunitidal interval; the time between high and low tide. During the interval the river water becomes absolutely still and that is the ideal time for casting the net (some earth science from the fisher folk). I spat into the river some white foamy spit to check if it is still the tide. If the spit is still, it is the interval, if it is drifting then the tide. The spit was still and Freddy started setting the net and believe me it is a tricky business. You need to set it like a semicircular curtain in the water supported by plastic floats on top and lead pieces at the bottom. During the entire process I should keep the boat steady and keep a 45 degree angle between the unrolling net and the boat or else the boat will run into the net and the net ill be torn. And if you disturb the water before you cast net you will not catch any fish for you scare the fish away before your net is ready. Before the low tide we set our nets. We should pull them back by… may be an hour before dawn.

“To the shore” pointing at the other bank Freddy told “what” I quipped “May be we should get something to eat” he replied. I looked into the direction that Freddy pointed at, there was a lantern dangled against the wall. “That is a tavern kind of a thing, you will get everything there” he elaborated for my information. We paddled across the river, the river that was absorbed in the scent and murmur of the night.

The tavern was run by a lady named Anna. She provided food; liquor and sometimes even girls for the fisher men who respectfully called her aunty’ for most of them owed her money. We sat on the wooden benches and ordered for boiled Tapioca and fish fry. When Anna arrived with our delicacies, Freddy whispered something to her. “For something to drink” he explained when I looked at him. Anna brought a bottle of crystal clear liquid and stood against the wall and looked at us approvingly as we were the youngest of her customers. ………………...to be continued in the next post soon.


  1. Well written! Is the fishing expedition to the sea or the river? If i am not mistaken, mangroves exist by the Sea shore.
    The Background that you portray is calm and serene, populated by vegetation and Aquatic life. I think - its my Opinion - that the descriptive language could have been simpler taking into account the setting of the story. Give my regards to Freddie... May be i will join you guys on a fishing trip someday....

  2. Hi Stan thanks for reading the post..

    liked your comment, even i thought it to a be bit verbose..

    yea someday we can go for a trip together..keep visiting

  3. Hey George, lovely post. I was spell bound by this 'real life fiction'. I found it so interesting that I read it slowly for the fear that I would be done reading... like a greedy child wanting to eat an apple & keep it too :-)
    Eagerly awaiting the next in the series!!

  4. Hey George! Great post! Keep posting! Gouri's words are my words :)

  5. Hi George! It was one f d Best Anecdote i evr read. It was like nt reading bt imagining urslf in the fun....Enjyd a lot... Keep posting.. Al d Best

  6. good man..liked it ..waiting for the next post

  7. just a wow-narration sir..way to go for ur novel :)