Conditions were ideal. The surf was small, a gentle breeze was blowing and the day would be mild.
Joma had said all his goodbyes over the past few days. It was difficult, with many attempting to persuade him to stay, but this only strengthened his resolve to leave.
His mother, father and Maria had recognised the importance of his mission and although apprehensive, had shown nothing but love and support over the past few days. They had come to see him off despite his objections.
The chief came up to him first. Laying a strong hand on the boy’s shoulder said, “I’m proud of you son. I always have been and always will be. If I have burdened you with expectations, forgive me, that was not my intention. You have grown in to a great man”.
The older man embraced Joma in a bear hug, “I love you and take care”.
Joma managed to choke out, “I love you too”.
Next was his mother’s turn. “You’ve always been so stubborn, just like your father. I hope you realise that you’re more than enough and don’t have to impress anyone. You’re your biggest critic. I love you Joma, come back safe”.
After a kiss and a hug, Joma thanked his mother also. There would be no tears from her in front of him. She was as strong as they came.
“Who am I going to tease and bully now?” Maria said playfully. She then became serious, “You mean a lot to me Joma, more than you realise. I can’t wait to hear your stories. Come back soon”.
There were tears in the girl’s eyes as she hugged him firmly. She held on and Joma resisted the urge to cut it short, partly because he knew the moment was important to Maria and partly because he felt comforted.
After some last minute advice and well wishes from Mariusz, the old man helped Joma push the boat out to sea.
Finally, he was on his way to nowhere.