The rest of the day’s fishing was called off and the flotilla made its way to shore. The chief declared a festival. Word spread through the village and preparations began in earnest.
The day felt like a dream. As he looked at his home town, it was with fresh eyes. The community had organised a festival in such a short time – a sign of their love and respect for Joma.
“Either my eyes have failed me, which is possible, or that’s a completely different boat!” Mariusz exclaimed as he rigorously shook the boy’s hand.
“Err, our boat was redesigned somewhat…to kindling that is,” Joma replied sheepishly.
“Ha ha! As long as it played its part in your trip then it did its job,” Marius said, holding Joma at arm’s length.
“I better leave you to it,” Mariusz whispered as he hinted toward Maria moving through the crowd.
“Thanks. For everything Mariusz,” the boy said meaningfully.
He left his old friend and was soon engulfed by Maria. “Joma,” she said holding him tight.
“Maria…” he squeezed out.
“Sorry,” she laughed, loosening her grip.
“I made it back only to be crushed by the Mighty Maria!” Joma joked and the two burst into laughter.
“Maria, I’m sorry I took you for granted. You have always been there for me. From now on, I’ll always be there for you,” he said not caring how cliché he sounded.
The two hugged once more and made their way to the village centre.