Friday, July 21, 2006

It was a nice breezy afternoon. I looked out over the Indian Ocean. "Do you think you are ever going to go fishing?" Asked Blair. She had read my mind. I had been thinking about the fishing pole that my dad bought me which became a burden to bring on the plane. I had to use it.
"I'm thinking of going now."
"Oh yeah? I'll come with you." So I ran upstairs and set up my pole. Everything was ready.
"Gunna catch anything big do you think?" Asked Melissa.
"Pssht, I'll be lucky if I come back with my tackle." We ran outside and found a good spot to fish from. I stood on some rocks and began to cast. Nothing. I cast again. Nothing. I cast again. I got stuck on something. I freed myself. I went again and again. Next to me were two guys my age, both fishing with wooden poles and no reels. A Hindu family which had been enjoying the ocean came over to talk to Blair. The sun was setting.
Stuck! I tried to free myself but it wasn't working. So I moved over, but that didn't work. I jerked and twisted the rod. It was stuck. Everyone was looking at me, this foolish kid with a fancy pole who had yet to catch anything. The two boys came over giving me advice in Sinhila. I did what they said. Nothing. I fought with the pole as the Hindu family talked to Blair and giggled at me. Wave after wave of water would come up and smash into me, but I fought on. One of the two boys walked over to me. In good faith he handed me a fish. I held the six inch fish which was gasping for water in my hands. A pity fish. I felt pathetic.
"Oh, haha, thanks, but it's okay, I don't want to take your fish." I said. They didn't understand what I was saying, but they understood what I meant. They pointed at the sea. They wanted me to throw it back? I figured that they would keep anything they caught here. "Throw it back?" I point at the sea. They nodded yes. The fish was still gasping. Each wave hit me and gave a little more life to the fish and only poured salt on my wounds. The sea had caught my hook, and with each wave it reminded me of its victory. I tossed him back. I fought with my pole some more. The other boy offered to help. I passed him my rod. He pulled. The line snapped. I knew I was beat and they did all that they could to help me. He made a hook shape with his finger and then stuck it on a rock.
"Yeah, I know." I said.
Blair said goodbye to the family. "Stutti" I said to the boys. They started walking to a new fishing location. Blair was making arrangements to meet the family the next day.
"I think I'm teaching that woman English tomorrow." I laughed. I went up to my room and changed out of my soaked clothes. I went across the hall to Bro. Naked's room.
"Hey, Bro. Benjamin?"
"Ah yes! Okay. Ahehehahaha." A pretty standard response from him.
"You don't know anything about fishing do you? Like, what bait I should use and stuff?"
"No, I don't know. Bro. Rajan will know." I then told him my story. He just laughed and laughed at me. Bro. Ignatius then walked up the stairs and asked what was so funny. I told him my story and then he laughed at me. Great, I was the laughing stock of the fishing community in America and now in Sri Lanka. Bro. Ignatius said that he would ask the girls he tutors to help me. So the next day two sixteen year old girls in dresses with flowers on them, whose favorite subject is religion and are from the fishing community, would take me fishing. My only hope to catch a fish was in these two, soft spoken young ladies.

The next day after school they came up to me. "Malu?" Rasika asked. "You want to go fishing?"
I tried to play it off real cool, as if I didn't need these girls. "Oh, well I mean, if you aren't buisy, sure."
"Okay, well at six o'clock I must come back to study." Great, she had a curfew. "Okay, I go and get some things." They ran down to her house and I went to my room to change. I saw Bro. Naked in his room.
"I'm going fishing, and I won't come back without a fish!" I yelled. He burst out in laughter. Rasika met me and had brought some tiny hooks without holes for the fishing line. I had no idea how to tie these kinds of fishing hooks. The other girl grabbed my fishing pole and ran down the hill and we followed. She sprinted in front of us and went deep into the sketchy fishing community. I hadn't been in there since the first day when I vowed to never come back. The girl was getting a weight and some bait from a family friend, who also attatched the hook. A man came out of the bar (which is owned by my student's mother) to talk to us. His daughter lived in Sacramento.
"Teachers, we are teachers at St. Bens."
"Teachers!? Oh! then you are always most welcome!"
We were ready. We walked out onto the rocks which jutted out far into the bay. "Where you go fishing tomorrow?" She meant yesterday. I pointed to the spot where I had lost my hook. "Oh! There are no fish there." You mean to tell me that the fish aren't fourty feet over there, but are really over here? Okay whatever.
I cast and brought my line back in. Nothing. I did that a few times.
"If any of you want to try let me know." I said. A few minutes later Rasika's friend wanted to try. She asked me to cast for her. So I did. I turned around to say something to Blair when I heard the girl yell in joy. I had just finished saying, "I bet she catches a fish" when she caught a fish. Now I had to catch a fish. I unhooked the fish, and in doing so hooked Rasika's hand. I unhooked Rasika. I tried once, then twice. Everyone was giving me advice. The man whose daughter was in Cali came over to see how we were doing. Now he was giving me advice. Fishing, for me, is a nice, solitary, relaxing sport. I don't care if I don't catch anything as long as I am having a good time. But now there were just too many chiefs and not enough indians. The girl who caught the fish wanted to try again. This time she succeeded only in tangling my line. I fixed it. I casted out again. I got stuck. This is when everyone had advice, none of which worked. The old man, whose name I later found out was Clifford, would not stop telling me what to do. Rasika told me to cut the line and that she would get me more stuff. She left and came back in ten minutes with new hooks and a new weight. Clifford had been lecturing me on something, what it was I don't know. He was able to tie the hook on however. A nearby fisherman helped by giving me some more appropriate weights.
"Come fish over here" he said. So now the fish were ten feet over. Okay fine. I cast out, nothing. Again, too many chefs sturring the pot. The other man caught a nice big fish. Damn him! I could do that! I tried again. Rasika's friend wanted to try again and she tangled my line, again. The sun was going down and they had to go. In trying to detangle my line the hook got stuck on a rock. I was going bazerk! Everyone had advice. I decided to not listen to them anymore. I jumped down onto the lowest rock after handing Blair my wallet, my camera, and my room key; I handed Rasika'a friend the pole. I got on my knees. I could see a huge wave coming at me. It got me drenched from head to toe. I didn't care. I would be damned if I lost this hook. I stuck my arm into the water following the line to the hook. It was far. My chest was in the water. Another wave hit me. The water was dirty and salty. Everyone, except Blair, was telling me that all I needed to do was just tug on the line; that I was doing too much work. I ignored them. Finally, I got the hook out, cut the tangled line and started to head back. I was expecting Clifford to ask for money.
"Mike," he said "come back sunday, have a drink at the bar. We will catch fish!" Then he walked back home. All of his annoying advice really was from a good meaning heart. I went up to my room to shower. I came out and sat at the table downstairs. Bro. Naked was closing all of the windows for the night. He walked up to me. "How was your fishing campain?" I looked at him with angry and upset eyes.
"Only the girl caught a fish. I only got wet."
"AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHEHEHEHEHHOHOHOHOHOHEHEHAHAHOHOHEHAHO!" He ate it up. He laughed all the way to the stairs, up the stairs, and into his room, and I'm pretty sure that I heard him laughing from my room at midnight.


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