Fishing for news

"My grand daughter is as big as your daughter. She also waves goodbye to aeroplanes flying above. Oh! she was here till 5 in the evening," said the man, watching his wife slice the fish we bought. We often go the kuppam (fishermen's colony) on Sunday evenings for a bargain buy.
That gave me a leeway to ask him a question that was on the tip of my tongue, but had refrained from asking for fear of upsetting V - he thinks I talk too much at times to the likes of autodrivers, salesboys at the local provision shop or fishermen for that matter. Come on, I am only a blog scribe digging for information or gain a few insights into their lives or their colloquialisms.
"How badly did the tsunami affect you?" Tsunami is a household word in the country ever since the December 2004 one that wreaked havoc on our shores.
"Oh. We were lucky not to have died, I must say. I wish we were dead. I was sleeping under a boat in the morning in a drunken stupor when the waves hit. It lashed me and my wife upto the lighthouse. We touched ground only then. We had nothing other than the clothes on our bodies. All our belongings were lost.
"Of course the government gave us money. Cant say otherwise. Amma did give but how much could she give? Not like this fellow who says he is distributing free televisions. We got Rs.4000. We took only 2 tokens - one for me and one for my wife - to claim the money. We didnt want to be dishonest though many took extra tokens to claim money."
I wish I could understand all that he said that night. My understanding of Tamil is not good enough (I know I have been repeating that oft enough) to grasp everything he said.
"Do you catch fish?"
He doesnt understand my question. My Tamil, you see. He however tells us that not to have second thoughts about buying fish at night. They are from the evening catch.
Dont buy fish in the morning which is stored in ice, he advises us. He goes off to sit in front of his hut.
Another buyer comes to have his buy cleaned and sliced. The mongers dont cut and clean the fish, there seems to be some division of labour here.
Vinod, who is busy giving instructions to the lady, pulls out a few currency notes to pay her. He hands me a note and asks me to give it to the man.
I happily extend it to him, but he refuses. "No, ma. That is wrong. I was just talking to you. Dont give me money."
I tell him that it is only part of the money we owe his wife.
As V swerves the car out, he asks me: "What was that man telling you?" His Tamil is worse than mine, so I narrate as best as I understood.
"Dont you think we are mean to bargain the price of fish to these poor people when we buy at double the price at the shops?" I ask him. He doesnt reply.


Anonymous said…
Hi, yeah u will sometimes see honest people among the poor too.. they do work hard..
they drink and their money go that way.. hence savings is less/nil..
takecare ust
Anonymous said…
u have a nose for news and a feel for words. S

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