Welcome to another post for the Write, Edit, Publish, blogging community.
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This month’s prompt The Great Wave is an iconic work created in the 1820’s by Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist from the Edo period.
Adil stood on the shore, his eyes fixed on the horizon. The sky was ablaze with the orange of the setting sun. He scrunched up his eyes as the big ball of fire began to melt into the blue of the sea.
Baba was somewhere out there, gliding his tiny boat over the brine. He was part of a small fishing fleet and set out to the sea each morning with nets bundled on old planks. Baba loved his boat, an old, vintage, flaky vessel. ‘This haggard piece of wood,’ he said, ‘keeps me alive in the middle of those bobbing waves.’
Adil loved the boat as well. But not as much. He wished Baba would invest in a new one, just like so many others had done. His eyes turned skywards. Clusters of white, fluffy clouds drifted towards the sea.
Adil folded his hands. ‘Please, please, please let Baba come home with a handsome Ghol today,’ he muttered. ‘Baba says he can manage with the boat for some more time, so maybe, we can think of a waterproof roof cover for the shack. How nice would that be! No more crouching in a corner on rainy days.’
Phut! Adil touched the top of his head. It was wet. ‘Think of the devil.’
He began to walk towards the sea, his bare, brown feet caressing the soft, drenched sand. The sea floor lay exposed, tiny waves running away from it to embrace the sky. Just the way Adil and his friends rushed home after school, each afternoon. Baba wanted Adil to do anything but catch fish when he would grow up. Better still, be a babu. ‘Forget the roof, we are managing well,’ Baba had said, pouring lentil soup over his rice. ‘I shall use the money from the Ghol to pay outstanding dues in your school. Else, they might strike off your name.’
From his bare four feet and a few inches, Adil looked up. The sun had disappeared and there was no more orange in the sky. Instead, a line of purple or maybe dark blue was smudged across the horizon. He was poor with colours, painting the hills yellow and blue in his art class.
‘Baba, can’t we plan a holiday to a hill station with the money from the Ghol?’ he had asked after a ‘C grade’ in art had graced his report card.
But purple or blue didn’t quite matter to him. He knew the day was coming to a close and all he cared for right now was his Baba’s boat. It appeared right where the sea and the sky had been hemmed. The silhouette of one…two…no, three of them at the edge, frolicking on the waves. Adil sat down, drawing his knees close to his chest and holding them in a tight embrace. His black hair settled in coils over his head. He badly needed a hair-cut. He had been told off in school…several times.
The boats appeared closer, turning around, doing a little dance every now and then. Two of them with bright hulls and white flags. The third, which he recognized so well, with its blue paint peeled off. He wondered if this third boat carried a bounty today. Enough for a replacement…or a new roof…or the school fee. And just a meagre amount for a small cake.
Adil had turned seven today. ‘Will we have a party?’ He had wanted to know. Baba had simply nodded. A nod which didn’t seem like a yes, but it didn’t seem like a no either.
Phut! Another tap on his head made Adil look up again. A tiny droplet ran down the middle of his face. The fluffy white cotton candies had disappeared and in place of them floated large gravel-grey boulders. A huffing wind slapped Adil’s face and the tapping rain turned into a heavy downpour in no time. He stood up and ran backwards, stopping just short of the seawall. Umbrellas opened up and people escaped with their belongings.
Adil turned around to look at the sea. A curtain of rain blurred his vision. But he tried harder. Huge black waves now lashed the shore and a gloomy shadow hung over the three boats. He climbed the top of the seawall. Still no sign of boats with white flags. Neither of any with no flag. Only giant, vicious waves.
Adil stood on the wall of the abandoned sea shore, drenched from head to toe. ‘Whenever there is a storm you must rush back home,’ he heard Baba say.
It must have taken only a few minutes for his feet to carry him home, but it seemed like eternity. The shack had turned into a mini pool, the leaky roof proudly displaying its benefaction. Adil crashed on the makeshift bed placed in a corner.
The night must have been long, because he walked back to the shore to watch his father stand on top of a Goliath wave, with a sling and a Ghol in his hand. Close by, the school had been flooded and he was being asked to tie his hair in a bun. He was still at the gate when Baba arrived in a new boat, one with a white flag. As they sailed back home, he noticed a huge bag on the deck.
Adil opened his eyes. Slanted beams of light peeked through the open door, where stood Baba holding bundles of net and his favourite tote bag.
‘How many did you catch?’ Adil asked from the bed. ‘Will we have a party?’
Total words : 926 (FCA)
Ghol- a fish found in the Indian coast
Thank you to Denise Covey and the team of WEP for this opportunity.