– Anais Nin
However, try as he might, he caught naught but a single oyster.
‘What a curious thing’, he thought to himself
‘The light is right, the winds on course, the shrimp is particularly fresh, yet the fish resist’
Out went the nets again. And a second. And a third.
But each time, only the oyster remained embedded in the criss-cross of coiled twines.
‘Very curious,’ he mused to himself
‘Oh well, might as well call it a day.’
And with that he retracted his net, retrieved the oyster, and proceeded to the shore.
Smiling to himself, Mr. Fisherman, or rather, Daddy, set down his tools, and opened his arms to embrace his little girl
“You came home early today, daddy!” she exclaimed
“Yes I did, my love. And I brought you something too!”
With that, he reached through his car window and retrieved a small pail full of water
“Wow, daddy. Is that a fish?” his little girl asked in awe
“Yes my dear. It’s a special kind of fish. Like you’re a special kind of girl.”
“But it’s not moving. It’s just…there.”
“Yes, that’s true. It looks like it’s doing nothing, but a lot is going on inside.
Just give it some time, you’ll see.”
With that, he picked up his baby, set her high on his shoulder, and they marched towards their small, backyard pond.
“I’d be delighted my lord.”
Such was the ease of their banter.
Each down on both knees against the soft earth, a mini-ritual commenced
The little girl reached into the salt water with her chubby hand and gently lifted the oyster
Staring at it, she whispered to it
“My daddy says one day you’re going to be something amazing. I think so too.”
Raising it to her lips, she planted a soft kiss against its hard, slimy, shell.
“All set now, my baby?”
With that, she eased the oyster into the pond, as Daddy emptied the pail water onto it.
Heading back to the house, the little girl asked
“Why did you pour the pail water on the oyster? There’s already a lot of water in the pond.”
“Because, my inquisitive one, this oyster has only known salt water.
Going into fresh water can be scary for him, so we had to introduce him to it gently.”
“Aah,” she replied in wonder. “You’re very clever Daddy!”
“Why thank you, my love.”
And with that, he picked up his little girl and off they went to spend the delightful day.
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
Yet it wasn’t enough
First, he had been entrapped in that web of God-knows-what
Then, he had heard and felt the most violent storm imaginable (the car in motion)
And finally, after staring up at some creature with the blackest, most penetrating, eyes,
he found himself here
It was like home, but not quite. There were other fish, but nobody like …
If only he could breathe!
‘Help!’ he screamed silently
“Long and slow,” a quiet voice said.
“Take long and slow breaths.”
Glancing out of the corner of his shell, he saw the most beautiful creature imaginable.
Glistening white shell with elaborate designs, she was one of his kind.
Long and slow. Long and slow.
After moments of burning pain, the roar in his ears calmed and finally, he knew he would live.
Turning ever so slightly around, he felt another tremor approach.
Heart beating wildly, he didn’t even have to utter a word, he was a goner.
Each had a vastly different experience, yet both were quiet souls.
And unlike other oysters in the world who sometimes lived in communes,
Until then, they had each ventured separately.
Yes, their union was a fulfilling one and they spent many a night gazing up at the moon through the warm pond waters.
But it was also tumultuous, for never had each had another challenge them so.
“You don’t listen to me,” “You’re being insensitive” “Can I have some alone time please?”
It was never ending.
But regardless of how tough it got, they always pushed on.
They knew they had some purpose in each others’ lives, but they were yet to find out just how much.
On a day that could only be described as bad from the start, our two oysters had a terrible fight.
Angry words hurled, the painful irritation of the sand, and a feeling of helplessness dawned.
They’d had enough.
No more trying, no more crying, it’s all for naught, they decided.
Each ventured to a separate section of the pond and although they could have crossed the threshold and forgiven each other,
They remained as stubborn as *moules.
And so it went. He in his corner, her in hers, longing for one another, but resisting the urge.
Tides changed and years passed, and fish came and went from that small pond of theirs.
Still begrudging, still wary, they each held grains in their heart.
Confused, the entire community of fish looked around in panic.
The alarm was sounded and all went awry.
Now, remember our friend from the Atlantic? He didn’t know what “net” meant,
But he did remember what it looked like.
‘It can’t be happening again. Not now. Not so soon.’
He rushed around the pond-turned-madhouse,
Desperately in search of her.
They hadn’t spoken in over two decades and he couldn’t remember the last they’d uttered those three words to one another.
“Where is she?”
Finally, he opened his mouth and called out her name.
His ears might not have heard a response, but his heart did.
Instinctively, he looked up.
Caught in the coil of twines was his love
Scared as she was – he could tell from her eyes – she remained brave.
Net retreating from the pond, there was naught they could do or say.
Each knew this was it. The end had come.
He looked up from his reading to the familiar voice and there she was.
All grown up and heavenly, but still his baby girl
“You look beautiful, my love, as always,” he replied and motioned to her to come over.
She turned to look at the other love of her life, who gave her a reassuring smile.
“Go on, I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
She walked across the room and sat on her daddy’s bed as she had done so many times before.
“Come closer, my child, so I might see you better,” he ventured with emotion in his voice.
She arranged her white wedding dress about her and eased herself into the pillows and against her daddy’s chest.
Then, as now, you captured my soul and you changed my life. You taught me to treasure life as I’ve never treasured it before and you helped make me a better person.
Look at you and how you’ve grown. It might seem like you’re still that little girl, but you’ve become someone even more amazing. You’re a blessing and a gift, and I’m glad for the opportunity to call you my little girl. I’m proud of you.”
“Daddy…you’re going to make me cry,” she whispered. “Who cries on their wedding day?”
He smiled and continued, “I have something for you.”
She looked over at her husband-to-be and raised her eyebrows questioningly.
With that look and not a single word, she asked: “He’s already given so much, what more could he be offering?”
Her soon-to-be shrugged.
Such was their connection and understanding of one another: unspoken.
Her eyelids fluttered and she looked down at two silver wedding bands.
“Oh Daddy, you shouldn’t have…” she started.
“Ssh. Take a closer look.”
Raising the rings towards the light, she noticed that embedded in the tulip-like detail of her band was a white pearl.
Confused, she looked over at her chosen life partner.
“Is this why you refused to let me help with the ring choosing?”
He smiled mischievously and winked at her dad who continued:
“I almost forgot.”
Reaching under his pillow, he pulled out a small black suede box and motioned to his son-in-law to join them.
Once at the bedside, he handed over the box.
As her husband pulled out a silver watch, her eyes widened.
Like the rings, this was no ordinary watch. Embedded on the mantle face beneath the numbers 12, 3, 6, and 9 were little shards of pearl
Not too much tackiness, and a whole lot of class.
“That is for you my son; a gentle reminder of your connection with my daughter. Days will come and days will go, but what is true will always remain. Time is relative and will sometimes get tough. But if you both remember that there will always be a new day and another opportunity, you will be fine. Be patient and gentle with each other. Because although you might not always see it, things will unfold as they should. There will be irritating grains along the way, but they will only fashion you to be stronger and better. So long as you love and remember from whence you came, you will not only succeed, you will go beyond the ordinary.”
A wrinkled old hand reached over and gently took the wedding band from his daughter. He handed it to his new son. He repeated the action, this time placing the watch in his daughter’s hand.
“Go on. You know what to do.”
Then, he held up her hand and slipped the pearl ring onto her finger.
When they were done, they both looked at the Fisherman-Daddy-Turned Wise Ol’ Man.
He reached first for his daughter’s hand and then for his son’s and placed the watch adorned hand on top of the ring adorned one.
What they were meant to be all along. And they were together.
“I don’t understand,” she started to say. “I thought we had lost each other for good.”
“I thought we had too. But a few minutes after you left, I heard a voice say, “Look, I think there’s another one in there. Can you see it glistening in the sunlight?” And here we are. Together, right where we’re supposed to be.
And so they were.
*Moule is the French word for ‘mussel’, another kind of shell fish. In this case, the word moule was used more for its phonetics and closeness to the word “mule”, from the expression “As stubborn as a mule”.
Read more about oysters & pearls here: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/marine-life/question630.htm
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.