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The sound of light – the night beyond the eye.

It was at that crepuscular time of day, the sky had a hazy shade of the monsoon about it and the slowly setting sun’s shafts of orange transformed the undulating ocean into a giant strobe flashing metallic shades of molten fire. I was standing on the beach watching some fishermen sort out their catch as the crows keep their beady eyes on what was going down, waiting for the first opportunity to snag a final meal before flying off to nest for the night. Their competitors were a few stray cats and dogs – also waiting in hope. As I looked down the long stretch of beach towards the spit at the southern end where the beach curves to form the surfers’ haven and where Mambo’s is located, I saw two figures in the distance, walking slowly towards us and as they approached I saw that it was an elderly couple – out for their evening stroll no doubt. They got to where we were and stopped to take in the fisherman’s catch, when ‘just like that’ a buxom woman ran up. She looked the epitome of the local ‘fisherwoman’ – stout and tough looking, her blouse undone except for the safety-pin that held the middle bit together, breasts straining for freedom, her bulgy midriff barely restrained. As she got to the boat she let out a string of expletives, her raucous voice raised to what could well have been her loudest. She vented her wrath on one of the men working the net – something to do with infidelity and then describing his questionable genealogy – all in the choicest vernacular of unparalleled profane, descriptive, artistry.

The elderly couple was undoubtedly astounded – the old lady quivering noticeably. The fisherman at the receiving end of the diatribe made a useless attempt to halt the virago – to no avail. The crows, quick to seize the opportunity of the man’s break in concentration, swoop on assorted fish and take off. The cats and dogs follow suit – all their patience finally rewarded. The elderly man turned to me and with a questioning look:

Did you hear that language? What a foul mouth! Should be a law against using this type of language in public, don’t you think?

I hadn’t realized that Java had materialized until I heard his chuckle and then:

Yeah, fo shuurre most folks would find it obscene, profane, tasteless, filthy an all dat, but as dat children’s adage go, ‘sticks an stones can break yo bones, but words will never hurt you’ – physically, dat is. Fo shure words can hurt sometimes, mo dan sticks an stones even, but dat jus depend on how yo ‘see’ dem words. Sometimes what some folk take for ‘profane’, be nuttin but a means of aiding dere descriptive prowess and could be looked on as ‘creative’ an ‘humorous’ even – if yo know where I’m comin from.

The old couple was obviously not about to appreciate Java’s objectivity or philosophizing on semantics, nor did they appear to feel the need to continue the discussion. The old lady quickly took the old man’s hand and urged him to return to their hotel. The light was fast fading and soon it would be dark. The couple walked back in the direction of Mambo’s.

The fisherman’s initial reaction of surprise at the attack was quickly replaced with one of resignation as he returned to his task of sorting out his catch with the others, none of who even reacted to the drama. However, the virago was not about to be distracted from her vicious verbal barrage and kept it up, vividly describing her husband’s numerous dalliances along with a string of other accusations. She kept this going until, what we guessed was more an act of desperation rather than one of anger, the fisherman calmly picked up an oar, walked the few feet that separated them and gave the woman a thunderous whack with the blade end of it – right across her ample midriff. The decisive blow knocked all the air out of the woman as she doubled up and then fell to her knees. The crows, as astute as ever, made their lightening observation count and grabbed more fish, as did the cats and dogs. The woman, now recovering from the initial shock of the attack, was gasping to get some oxygen back into her lungs – all the aggression and violence now a thing of the past – dissipated by the whack. The fisherman started to light a couple of lamps – it was nearly dark by this time and we thought it best to get back to the house we use as a base for the work in the east.

It was dark by the time we returned. Java set up the I-pod with the Bose dock while I headed for the shower. By the time I returned there was music courtesy of Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble (a fabulous combination of Garbarek’s tenor and soprano saxes combining with the male voices of the Ensemble) filling the room, together with the fragrant aroma of what seemed to be excellent Sinsemilla – and strange as it may sound, whilst looking at liner notes that accompanied the record was this line:

Birds that feed on fish; their excrement will form the beginning of an oasis in which human beings can live, until the next stream of lava smothers it all.

January 2007
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Ephemeral Ruminations by Java Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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