Chapter One

He was woken by a nudge and grunt from his father. He rolled out of bed wiping the sleep from his eyes. It was still dark out but already the warmth and humidity of the day could be felt. He made his way to the kitchen where a simple breakfast of coffee, salted milkfish and small bread rolls lay waiting at the table, prepared by his mother.

The two quickly finished their meal and made their way to the boats. Some others had already arrived and were preparing the skiffs for the morning ahead.

“We are in for a good day chief” exclaimed Manolo, who was one of his father’s best men. “I hope you’re right Manny, the last few weeks have been lean. I am getting sick of all these milkfish!” the chief replied jovially.

Preparing the boats was a subconscious task by now. They were checked for any damage and adequately equipped with supplies such as rope. “Joma, have you checked the main sail?” his father asked sternly. “Yes pa, all good” he replied anxiously, knowing that a mistake would quickly be identified.

The chief sauntered over to the main sail and began assessing its integrity. “Good” the chief said to himself. Joma bristled with frustration. Did his own father have no faith in his ability to perform a simple check?

They set off for the morning. Joma let the negativity resulting from the event earlier in the day brew. He responded brusquely to all comers until he was left to his own devices.

The mornings catch was good as Manolo had predicted and the men returned in a jolly mood. The chief was smiling and patting the backs of his men when he signalled to Joma that it was time to go home.

“You were rude today Joma. Why are you upset? Don’t tell me it was because I checked the sail” his father looked straight ahead as he talked. “I told you I had checked it yet. Is my word not good enough?” Joma replied with a small quiver in his voice. “You have made mistakes before my son. There is nothing wrong with double-checking. You should not allow something small like this ruin your day” his father volleyed back.

Joma did not say another word and went back to brooding.

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