“You know what your father is like Joma. You mustn’t let small things ruin your day” his Mother spoke softly and kindly. Joma huffed a response. The two were preparing the freshly caught fish; scaling, gutting then cutting them into fillets. This job was typically reserved for females, but Joma enjoyed the process despite the Chief’s desire that he spend his time honing the male-dominated duties of the village like fishing. His father’s requests had eroded over time though. Besides, it was early afternoon and the Chief would sleep for the next few hours.
To his mother, preparing a fish was a craft and the knife her paintbrush. She would do the task swiftly and with precision, and was easily one of the best in her village.
“How did you go fishing today?” she asked tentatively. “Good” Joma snorted. He was in no mood for small talk or any talk for that matter. “What have you planned for the rest of the day?” his mother asked; she wasn’t giving up on the conversation that easily. “Nothing” Joma replied sullenly. The one-word answer was a hallmark of his bad moods. “Oh come here son” his mother said as she moved to give him a consolatory hug. “No ma, you’re covered in fish” Joma said backing away with arms extended acting as a hug barrier. He stormed out of the room leaving his mother to finish the remaining fish. I hate hugs, he thought.
He sat by the edge of the hut tying knots. The best fishermen would meet three times a year for knot tying competitions. There were events for the fastest knot and the most intricate. Although competent, Joma was far from the best. He put in countless hours and was quick in practice by faltered at the competitions. “You must use your whole body son, not just the fingers” the chief had sat down beside him. His father, was of course the best at tying knots in the village. He took the rope of Joma and demonstrated what he meant, “Like this” he said.
Without a word Joma stood up and walked away.