All Ends Well

The monsoon season came early this time, forcing the fishing fleet to remained docked and forcing the army of fishermen into temporary unemployment. Some laze over at the kopitiams but for me it meant fishing at the jetty I called the End Point.

East of the main docks from where we off-load our catch is a lone jetty. Partly obscured from view by abandoned cargo containers and off the beaten path, it provided me privacy to fish and to think. So it was no surprised when one afternoon, seeing the break in the weather, I headed to my favorite spot on the docks lugging along two fishing rods, a small COLEMAN cooler-box filled with live prawns, a red foldable chair and a backpack stuffed with junk-food.

Fishing is an art-form and the right equipment is necessary but rather than going straight to the various Angler’s R Us outlets in Big City, I bought my rods and accessories second-hand from the guys over at the docks. Maybe it is me but knowing that the rod I’ve purchased almost (yes, almost) snagged a whale shark, is motivation enough for me to dish out serious money.

There’s an element of luck involved in fishing and knowing your almost-snagged-a-whale-shark rod is with you, kind of up the chances of catching fish even when the waters are muddy and debris clogged.

Fishing during the monsoon presents its own set of challenges. One of it is clearly visible as I sat at the end of the jetty. The river water loses its normal greenish quality and is instead replaced by a color akin to coffee with too much milk. Fish are particular, and swimming in dirty mud-clogged water does not seem to suit them well. And then there is the debris that gets washed into the river by the tide. Thankfully for me, the jetty jutted out far enough from the shore, stretching beyond the debris field that was washed up by the storm the previous night. The river water was slightly clearer than the day before so I assumed the fish would be swimming happily just waiting to take a nib at the live prawn dangling from my fishing hook.

I baited my fishing rods, cast my lines and waited.

The Big City river cuts the city into two enclaves. The southern part of the city is more urban whereas the northern areas seemed to be caught in a state of limbo, between being urban or rural. It seemed a clear separation from haves and the have nots. The poor and the rich. Abundance and lack.

The Guilty and the Innocent.

It would be a far fetch thing to separate a city into two and place people on either side based on a Judgement of Guilt. Yet as human beings we do separate individuals based on our own judgement of guilt. We have a river that cuts our perception, that determines who we associate with and why we align ourselves with them. But who are we to judge when we ourselves fall under judgement?

There was movement to my right but it was not my fishing line. A small sampan was making its way to the End Point, paddled by a lone old man. He came up along the jetty, docked his sampan and made his way up the ladder with a single fishing rod. I greeted him with a smile and he replied in kind.
He sat to my right and cast his line and along with me waited to see if the fish would bite. He lifted his white skull-cap ever so slightly and mumbled, “Panas.”

I smiled and offered him my water bottle, “You want some water?”

“Thank you.”

He took a sip and returned the bottle to me.

“Lama duduk sini?”

“Lama juga…you’re from the village?” I asked, pointing to the other side of the river.

“Yes, and you?”

“I stay near the docks.”

“Off day?” He asked.

“Bad weather.”

I scratched an itch on my neck, the heat was getting to me but the fishermen’s stubbornness had struck me and I was desperate to see my almost-snagged-a-whale-shark rod catch something.

“Nice looking rod,” he said, “Looks like it can catch something big.”

“Well, this one almost…”

“Caught a whale shark?”

“You’ve heard about this rod?” I was beginning to feel very small.

He pointed at his rod, “Mine caught a turtle.”

“Turtle?” I asked, grinning sheepishly.

“Turtle,” he replied.

“Did it really almost catch a turtle?…er…” I asked, looking at him.

“Haji Sapiee,” he said, smiling as he adjusted his glasses and extended his hand.

“Ryan,” I replied, taking his hand.

We shook hands and he managed a chuckle.

“You shouldn’t believe all those stories when buying your rods. For all you know, it could have been gambar ikan paus.”

“And yours could have been gambar penyu too.”

“Haha…No. I was there when this rod caught a turtle. Over at the tanjung, two years ago. I had to jump into the water to unhook the turtle from my line. So I’m really sure what this rod can do.”

“Lucky you.”

“Not everything is luck.”

“Really?” I asked.

“It’s about being at the right spot at that particular time.”

“Takdir?”

“Takdir? Hmm…I think you can say that.” The old man replied, nodding in agreement.

“You believe all things are pre-destined? Even the two of us sitting here fishing?”

“Why not? Everyone has a role to play, a place in the bigger picture.”

“Even if things turn out bad?”

“If it serves the purpose…all is fair. Insya’allah.”

“The good and the bad would then serve a purpose. Nothing would go to waste and nothing would come back in vain. That’s an interesting argument.”

“You believe in Isa. Without Judas, there would not be a cross. Without the betrayal, there would not be a betrayed and there would not be someone to die. Everyone has a purpose even if it seems their role is evil or the outcome is bad.”

“But it hurts to lose so much and you’ll never see the outcome,” I said, my voice almost drowned out by the sound of the swirling wind.

“We were never created to see the future but rather to live in the present in surrender to our takdir.”

“But we can always change our takdir, not everything can be passed along to mere fate.”

“If you choose to, then it is your takdir to make better your life. Can we really read the mind of the Almighty when it comes to the doings of our lives? It is a matter of perspective. Not all things are bad, even bad things have the potential for being a good thing.”

“Your views…they…are different,” I nodded.

“The more I learn, the more I see things are not what they seem. I’ve been accused of being un-knowledgable in religious matters.”

“Serious?”

“Yes. But then fools will teach the wise.”

I looked at him surprised, “Sounds familiar.”

“I’ve read your Injil,” he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, “I believe it is good to have knowledge of what other people believe in. What we do not understand does not necessary have to be bad. It just means, we don’t know enough to make a conclusion.”

I leaned back and turned slightly towards Haji Sapiee. The wind had picked up a little and we could hear the sound of Haji’s small sampan bumping against the jetty post where it was tied to. The laughter of children, carried by the wind, reached us from the other side of the river. The heat had driven these children to take an afternoon dip and I could see that Haji Sapiee was keeping a watchful eye on them.

“Anyone you know?” I asked.

“My grandson is among them,” he replied. “He can be naughty at times but he’s a good lad.”

“My son would have been that age by now.”

“What happened to him?”

“Accident…” my voice trailed to a whisper and I felt a lump in my throat.

“Are you angry?”

The question struck me. It has been more than a year since the accident, yet was I still suffering from it?

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Sometimes, I think I am but sometimes it seems

I’m not. Maybe I was angry at what had happened. Still I find myself asking why it happened to me?”

“There are many things too high for us to understand. We must accept and be thankful for the life we have, and do good while we still can. Do as much as we can, time is short but the effects of what we do can last a lifetime. No matter how small our task, it may help shape someone’s walk through life.”

Those words stayed with me as I watched Haji Sapiee paddle his sampan back to the other side of the river. His grandson greeted him and after saying goodbye to his friends, followed Haji Sapiee back home. Haji Sapiee walked a few steps and stopped a while to wave at me.

I waved back, knowing full well, I would see him again whenever I was at End Point and maybe in a serendipitous way it was his small task to help me along.

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One Response to All Ends Well

  1. Pingback: All Ends Well | tugboatinsurance.com

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