Why did you not catch any fish today?
The dolphin ate them.
I kept quiet. We stared into the ocean, home to the dolphins, who always snatched Shekar’s fish.
Polem — the last stop between Goa & Karnataka. A small fishing village along the scenic coastal route stretching for miles, defying states and statesmen. It is one of the many tiny hamlets that line this coast that offer you the green ocean, blue skies, lazy fishing villages and, most of all, this was still cheap – it being the most operational word. So I went there for a bit.
That’s where I met Shekar (name changed obviously).
The first time I saw him, it was around noon. His face was racked with worry lines, his right knee bent unsteadily and he was holding onto a rickety boat with an unsure right hand. He stared at the sea as a child eyes a dark room – frightened, unsure & unhappy.
Very unlike a fisherman, who had fishing for most of his life.
The sea was the best topic to break the ice. We spoke, awkwardly at first, before mutual curiosity made it smoother.
He was really interested in my life — the gossip had already reached him that I was a writer writing a book & more importantly for him, staying at Diwakar’s homestay. He asked me how much rent I was paying. I deflected by asking him,
Are you going in now?
Whydon’t you go in with the others?
He knew I was referring to the other fishermen who went mostly early morning or late evening.
I never go out with the others.
He explained why. He had a knack of finding the best fishing grounds and the others followed him, then put out their massive nets around him, cutting him off from the fish. So he had stopped going with them. Now he fished alone.
A wise man, I thought to myself.
So then, you will go in now?
Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.
Then a voice yelled at us.