A Fishing Expedition

“It is not the cold that makes me shiver,” he said, “ a mere winter day by the river is not at all cold for the likes of me!”
“There he goes again,” thought his friend as he sat down just beside him. Both put out their fishing lines. They sat for nearly an hour, without any luck, and well, soon began to lose their patience as the morning dragged on.

The damp mist, hanging about the entire region, forbade a clear sight of the river. It had arrived a few days back, and now seemed quite reluctant to leave without a substantial halt. Every now and then, the friends would hear a splash in some direction, and on sending their lines flying there, would get them entangled, and would end up spending hours disengaging the mass jumble of lines, and then again resume their positions.

“Fish too is scarce now,” said the first.
“True. An intense yearning for some fresh air and a nostalgia for old habits brought me down to this Halls Creek, yet no luck so far, not even a sleepy cod,” replied the second. The latter looked around to continue his conversation, but found no one. The fishing line and kit lay in their place, the owner being missing.

“Now, where did that Tyson wander off?”, he asked himself. He presumed Tyson to have walked away into the wilderness, to fascinate himself with the birds. Sam just did not understand how his friend could possibly hold interest in so many varying subjects, right from fishing to birds, from science to literature, from the man-made to the natural.

Sam trudged on mumbling and muttering, having to stop his own fishing. Another hour or so would have resulted in at least a few specimens of gudgeon. Nevertheless, he called out to Tyson, was not answered, and sat down, waiting. Just then, he heard a rustle as someone brushed against the low-hanging branches of the old cedar tree under which he was resting. Alarmed, Sam looked this way and that, his body tense with fear and bewilderment. The dim sunlight and the swirling mist made it quite impossible to see anything, and Sam didn’t want to leave the tree, which at least secured him from the backside. Well, the atmosphere was much too comfortable, and the fellow immediately dozed off, dreaming of catching Tyson from the river with his fishing line.

Tyson, on the other hand, too was now frantically searching for the way back to the river bank. He had spotted a rare paradise flycatcher, and had walked off after it, without even bothering to think about his return. Now, as he wandered here and there, he realised that he was going around in circles. Had he not just passed the two pines a minute ago? Tyson made up his mind to now go only forward, at least he would end up somewhere. As he went forth, he heard a sigh and a thud. Immediately convinced that it was a miscreant, he advanced stealthily, trying to keep the cedar branches away from his hair, for Tyson was afraid of ants. Just then, he heard a loud snore, and pounced upon the source, and as the other woke up alarmed, and began to run, petrified of the attacker, Tyson hung on for dear life. As the two approached the bank, the runner tripped over a rock and fell headlong, Tyson behind following suit. As they looked at each other, Tyson was amazed to see Sam glaring at him, his hair rather roughly decked with dirt and leaves.

“You bumbling ass, what do you think you were doing?”, demanded Sam. Tyson muttered an apology as they took up their positions at the bank again.

After another hour or so of (im)patient waiting, Sam spotted a motion in the swirling water, and threw his line with accurate aim at the archerfish, but failed to hook it. Letting out a few of the choicest curse words, Sam threw his line again in the river, and this time putting it in the holder, lay down on the bank to sleep. (Yes, again for hadn’t Tyson disturbed him?). Tyson, by this time, had just got the wire on the wheel, and after a few moments of satisfaction, realised that he had been holding the rod the wrong way. Enraged, he pushed his rod away, and lay down too. Both slept on, and on, and on, even as the morning turned to afternoon. The mist lifted, they slept on, the sun bathed them in sweat, they slept on, the sun bade farewell to the trees, they slept.

As they woke up they found out that soon it would be all dark, and Halls Creek was not all that exciting at night. They hurriedly got to their feet, and started packing up. Just then they saw a random person setting up his line a few yards away.

“Poor fellow,” mentioned Tyson, yawning.
“Not much luck for him, if we managed nothing after an entire morning,” said Sam shaking his head.
“But let’s watch,” offered Tyson.

The person caught a fish on his line, gave a sharp jerk, and it came flying into his hand. He immediately threw it away. He caught another, a bigger one, but sighed and made it follow his predecessor. Sam and Tyson were astounded. Who throws back a perfectly good mackerel and a tuna?

They went up to him, and asked,
“Good man, why do you throw away the fish you catch?”
“What can I do, sir? I’ve only a six-inch frying pan at home, so there is a need to match the measurements.”

Shaking their heads in disbelief, Sam and Tyson went off, bringing an end to their fishing expedition (only without the fish).

© 2017, A Fishing Expedition by Ritom Gupta. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.