“Why are they going back?”
The sight of a multitude walking in the opposite direction gave me the impression that we were already late. In their hands were assorted baskets and plastic bags, most certainly filled with fish they bought from fishermen who landed early on with their catch.
“See! We lost the opportunity!”
My cousin’s husband would not let me forget that it was my fault. Not only we walked a long way, endangered our lives with the reckless ride and arrived when everyone was leaving.
“We can still wait. Maybe there are other fishermen who will come later.”
An overly masculine voice called out to us. He was someone we did not recognize but the man beside him, flagging us, was our host. He held a couple of big fish in each hand.
“Our journey is not fruitless, after all,” I celebrated happily.
“It’s a good thing my cousin is a resourceful guy,” Rolly said. His temper has dissipated.
We jogged toward the couple. They stood near a twenty-foot boat by the river bank, a short distance from the seashore.
“My friend here is offering us a ride home,” our host revealed. “We don’t need to walk home.”
“Indeed, the best news for today!” I exclaimed, thankful that another long walk would be avoided.
“That would be safer than riding a cart,” Rolly mumbled.
“What’s that?” our host asked, confused with his cousin’s statement.
“It’s a long story. You’ll never believe what happened.”
“You can relate it to me on the boat,” he said, motioning us to embark.
His friend has already turned on the engine while we spoke, waiting for us patiently to sit and enjoy the ride.
“Be careful,” Rolly warned me. “The bamboo is slippery.”
“Don’t worry, I can manage,” I replied, balancing myself, precariously stepping onto the scaffolds.
The boat moved forward, slowly maneuvering toward the deeper section of the river.
Then, there was a loud disturbance, something fell on the water.
I found myself floating alone, the boat was already ten yards away.
“Swim!” Rolly yelled from the boat that was stopped immediately by the operator. “I told you.”
“I slipped!” I shouted back, doing the freestyle in the most leisurely fashion.
“Faster!” he ordered, his voice had a hint of warning.
“Why the rush? I am enjoying myself.”
I saw the three of them busy looking for something. In seconds, they were holding long sticks.
“Come on! You don’t want to be breakfast.”
Did I hear that correctly? Me? Breakfast?
Then, an image flashed on my mind, words association and survival instinct rolled into one.
I swam faster. What I thought was behind me urged my whole body to seek the boat’s safety.
I climbed on board in a flash, scared and exhausted.
“What was it?” I asked apprehensively. “Was it a crocodile?”
“You’re lucky,” Rolly grinned. “It was a long driftwood that looked like the real thing.”