*#1 of the MANNY GOLOYUGO series. Extract from my Photography blog, Through Frog Eyes. Each month a guest photographer is featured and a short story is woven around a set of photographs. Please click on the link to read the previous stories and the complete version of the story below.
Crispin leaned back on one of the wobbly posts that held his hut up. The rough texture of the wood against his back was anything but comfortable, and he would have given an arm and a leg to own a bed that moment, but he only had a few minutes to rest and eat before going back to work on his fishing net. It looked like rain again and that meant sleeping on wet floors, since the hut was open on two sides and the hammock was assigned to the children. The fishermen’s community he lived in consisted of assorted makeshift huts by the sea, all built out of coconut lumber and palm leaves. There was no such thing as permanence in that area given the temperamental weather conditions and volatile seas that determined who was going to survive that day or not. He had witnessed far too many friends capsize and never return home, ignoring their better judgment just for the sake of a few extra fish. The market prices were at an all-time low anyway, so it made no difference whether they brought in 50 or 70 fish, they would still be poor and deep in debt. At least he still managed to provide rice for his family, and either way, the sea always provided for them.
The next morning was a cloudless one, and the sun was full of promises. Crispin looked out to the water and said a thanksgiving prayer and pleaded for a good catch. It was time to turn things around. The boat needed fixing, the girls had outgrown all their clothes already, and the rice supply was almost depleted. His wife had briefly contemplated getting a job in the market as a fruit vendor, but the hours were long and there would be nobody left to take care of the two younger children. All the neighbours were busy with their own lives and it was too much of an imposition to ask any of them to take the children in on a daily basis, especially since it meant additional mouths to feed. At this point, all of them were barely scraping by.
Crispin smiled and said to his wife “We may be going through hard times but at least we still manage to eat two meals a day, unlike Manong Jose who has eight children and they all need to take turns with the meals.”
She turned to face him “Yes, one of them told me how it works. Whoever eats dinner has to skip breakfast the next day. We still manage, and I can start planting okra in plastic buckets again, so that even if we move we can take them along.”