NASKAH SUNDA KUNO
07 August 2012
Short Story : FISHING TIME
By : MAMAT SASMITA Sundanese VersionTranslated from Sundanese into English by Josephine Natania
Hastily, Kang Sabri walked to the south. He got off down the bridge at the riverside and looked around to find a good spot to fish.
Ah… There was little stream of water in the west riverside.
Near the stools of sadagori plant (Shuteria rhombifolia L.), the current was not rapid. There also seemed to be the deepest part of the river. This place was perfect. Kang Sabri quickly set up his fishing tools.
The tangled line was straightened and then attached it to the angling rod. The bait was fish worm.
Plop. The rod was thrown into the water.
Kang Sabri sat on the grass which was still rather wet by the raindrops.
It was 9 o’clock in the morning and the sky was clear. The sun shone warmly. The wind blew softly. It felt so comfortable to feel the warmth of the sun on our back, combined with the fresh wind.
Today, he decided to go fishing to forget his complicated daily problems. He nailed his eyes on the tip top, the line, and the bobble.
Sometimes he saw the chasing water bubbles. Sometimes he saw the rubbish floating on the water. Sometimes he saw the leaves swaying in the wind.
He wanted to get a big fish today.
It quite took some times for him to realize that his back started to stiffen. He held the rod with a bending back.
He put down the rod to the grass below; stuck with a heel so that it would not have been dragged away if there had been something bit the bait.
He opened his cloth bag and put out the provisions he had prepared from home. Boiled cassava, warm water in thermos flask, two pieces of lemper and leupeut. The last he bought in Ceu Enyi’s food stall before going here. Eating cassava and leupeut along with drinking warm water tasted so delicious, since he missed breakfast this morning.
Suddenly, the still water rushed and the rod was crooked. Almost the rod was carried away. Kang Sabri gave a tug to the rod, pulled the line by rolling the reel . Fighting with the fish was certainly the most favorite part in fishing,. If we did not correctly pull and roll, the fish could lose or it was the line that might have broken.
The fish movement was seen on the water surface. It seemed a big one.
The fish started to run out of energy and it came to the surface. The hook was pieced on its mouth. It gasped for air.
“It really was a seed. The weigh is probably about a kilo,” he spoke in his heart.
Kang Sabri hastened to the riverside. He no longer held the rod, but the line. He drew it towards him. The fish floated and gasped, but when he wanted to hold it, the fish rebelled against him. The water splashed onto his face. The fish almost went away.
He decided to shoot this wild fish. This time he finally caught it. He brought it to the ground. The fish’s stomach was seen bulge as if having had eggs in it. Hope the eggs would hatch soon.
When Kang Sabri stared at the fish, the fish stared back. The mouth was opened and closed frequently. “It seems trying to talk to me,” he pondered.
Finally the fish was exhausted. He put it in the net and let the tip of the net remained in the water.
The fish was restless. Using sadagori plants, he succeeded to form a knot on the net. The net became a jail for the fish now.
Kang Sabri throw the rod into the water, tugged the line so it fitted nicely. He fixed his eyes again on the tip top and the rod. He moved his sight for a moment when the fish rolled in the net. He was sure now that this fish carried eggs inside the body.
The fish could be cooked well with ginger chili paste or saffron season. The eggs would surely add delicious taste, thick and full of fat. Sitting cross-legged, eating it alone, biting small chili pepper, blowing with open mouth to feel the hot taste. Amazing!
But, who would be the chef? Kang Sabri thought. No one at home. He lived alone in a boarding room. Well, actually it was not that hard. He just needed to ask Ceu Enyi, who had a food stall in front of his boarding room, to cook for him. She would certainly do it. What a kind woman she was! She often sent side dishes and when he did not have money, she did not mind of being paid later for the dish he bought now.
Kang Sabri was still unmarried. He worked as an elementary teacher. Two years ago, he successfully became a civil worker.
Ceu Enyi had a son who was an elementary student. He was still a 5th grader but a serious student he was. He was used to come to Kang Sabri’s room in the evening to ask either help for his homework or many things he wanted to know. His efforts always led him to a rank at school.
Maybe that was the reason why Ceu Enyi was so kind to him.
Kang Sabri always felt comfortable to teach children owned to the fact that he was a teacher. However he realized that it had been his duty to teach and set good examples to his students everywhere.
Since this was an off day at the end of the month, he did not go back to his village as usual. The money could only afford for foods.
The fish tried to escape from the net. Kang Sabri observed it closely. It was truly big. He would get 20,000 rupiahs if he sold it. That amount would be enough for 2-day eating.
When the eggs hatched, it could be hundreds.
Kang Sabri stared at the distance. His mind thought of the possibilities.
If he ate it with ginger chili paste, his stomach would be full and he would be satisfied.
If he let go the fish so the eggs hatched, maybe the river would be filled with other big fish like this one someday.
He remembered that he ever taught a lesson of environment to his students. He often asked why there were people who fished by using electricity or plant sap. Why there were people who threw the rubbish anywhere, not in its proper place. Why there were people who threw waste disposal or damaged forest for their own pleasure.
He put down the rod he was holding and stuck it between the sadagori plants. He approached the net, still with confused mind.
Eat it or let it go?
At last, he finally decided to let it go. He remembered her sister who was pregnant in the last few months. She plodded while holding her protruding belly. He also remembered how busy his family was when the time came for her sister to give birth. He heard with his own ear how she screamed. He felt a blissful feeling when her sister was safe through the birth process. Everybody welcomed the newborn baby with gladness. The mother was a shelter and refuge for the baby now. Mother’s love would not change through ages.
He opened the net and pushed the fish so that it slid off to the river. He spoke slowly to the fish as if having talked to a kid, “Leungli, grow your children and keep them safe. Fill this river. Next month I’ll come here again to fish. Maybe next month your task of raising them has finished and you must bite my bait again.” He called the fish “Leungli” as he remembered the tale of Leungli, the fish which befriended with a girl.
When he was saying that, a voice was heard behind him without any notice before where it came from. “Sir, why did you let the fish go?”
Kang Sabri looked back and saw Mang Kanta, a pedicab driver who usually stayed in front of his school to wait for the passenger.
“Mmmmm… The fish has eggs. I have pity on her.”
“Why, Sir? Don’t you have a pity on me too? If it was given to me, it could be exchange for 3 kilos of rice.”
Kang Sabri could not speak. He just washed his hands then squeezed the net. He did not think that far nor had an idea of giving it to Mang Kanta.
“Alright, Mang. If I catch another one, I’ll give it to you.” That was all the answer he could give.
“I understand, Sir. Probably I have a different view of fishing. Sometimes I watched fishing show on TV, but the fish which was caught will be released again.”
“Different view…. You mean?”
“To me, fishing is an effort to get something to eat and fill stomach. I usually do that between the activity of driving pedicab. The fish is for my children’s dish. If I get quite much, I’ll exchange it for rice. If not, I’ll bring it home to cook. While for you, Sir, fishing is just for pleasure. Enjoy the sensation of the fish’s bite on our bait, the movement of the fish, pulling the line, dragging the fish. The result doesn’t matter to you. Pleasure for me was the sight of my children enjoying eating fish,” explained Mang Kanta.
Kang Sabri nodded hearing this fiery explanation. He then drew the line to him and checked the rod. Mang Kanta squatted while waiting for the bait to be beaten. Finally Kang Sabri asked to go home first.
One month later on a day off, Kang Sabri squatted before the river. This was the same fishing spot he chose last month. Angling rod was straightened, the line was neatly arranged. The bait was still fish worm. He promised himself to give the fish he caught today to Mang Kanta.
He threw the rod to the still water.
With great patience, he waited silently. Staring at the rod, the line, and the water bubbles.
Some people said fishing was an activity without definite purpose, just standing and waiting. The others said fishing was like putting your hope on something, because blessings would not slip away from those who should have received it.
Kang Sabri bore this stiffened bending back so as to make his hope came true. He wanted to see Mang Kanta’s children enjoying eating fish.
In the middle of the day, there was something hooked on the rod. He hurriedly pulled it and rolled the reel. What was strange was he felt that this fish did not fight at all. No dragging, no rebellious movement.
A big fish was seen on the water.
But, he could not believe what he saw! His eyes were opened widely. Along with the big fish, hundreds or even thousands little fish swam behind it. Their sizes were just like a child’s little finger. They seemed to accompany the big fish which was probably their mother.
The big fish swam to the mouth of the river where he was standing.
Oh my God!
He descended to the water, picked it up with his two hands, and brought it to the land. The fish stood still, just gasped for air.
“Leungli, is that you?” he spoke quite whispering. The fish moved slowly.
The little fish waited in the mouth of the river. They looked like wanted to jump to where their mother had been.
In his eyes, Kang Sabri could see Mang Kanta’s face expression when he asked about thiis fish before and the picture of his children eating fish happily.
He caressed the fish and put it back into the water.
“Thank you, Leungli. You’ve fulfilled your promise, it’s my turn now. Go! Take care of your children. Let them grow up and fill this river,” he whispered while washing his fingers in the water.
The fish, accompanied by her little children, dived into the still water. A strong splash wet his face; he smiled and wiped it off.
Kang Sabri collected his fishing tools and sowed the bait on the river. Hastily, he walked home.
 Brother (also used in conjunction with personal names, official title, etc)
 A snack made from glutinous rice with meat as stuffing (wrapped in banana leaves then steamed and roasted)
 A kind of dish of cooked sticky rice wrapped in small wraps of banana/coconut lieaves
 Sister (friendly term of address for an older sister)
 A term of address to younger brother of father or mother, also in conjuction with proper names, titles of office, etc.