“Hey, this great river Guard, Thy to whom we glorify and uphold, we bring these little offerings and we beseech for your protection and bless as long as we make a living on the scrolls of your waves.”
This is a fragment of the prayer I whisper to the night before I leave to fish, as I also place a chicken egg under a large tree near the beach — an offering begging for blessings for my effort today. This small ritual is part of my “conversation” with the Gods, the Marapu.
My name is Delu Milla, I am 55 years old, from Kandawu Tana village, South Kodi. I come from a big family, most of them are farmers: cultivating cassava, rice, corn, cashew, and other dry crops. Since childhood, I have been fishing to add a monetary source of income to the family besides dryland farming. I grew up with my 11 siblings, and working from an early age was not a choice but a must for survival. My mother and father were away on the lands most of the time. I had no choice but to provide by myself for my grandparents and younger brothers and sisters.
The fishing skills I have were taught by my friends who live near the seashore — some of them still go to the ocean together even until now. My work tools are very simple: nylon lines and a hook tied around a small bamboo, small wooden sinkers, and a knife.
Usually, from September to December and later on during April to June, three of us from the village go down to the sea at around 1 o’clock in the morning and use a rowboat to fish. We go back home hours later, at around 10 o’clock in the morning.
For me, Karoso beach is my second home. I have spent more than forty years playing with the winds and waves of this beach. And Karoso has a lot of fish. Karoso is like a friend who helps me get through life by sharing its fish with me when I am in need. At night and in the early morning, Karoso is so calm and quiet. For me, besides doing this to earn income, fishing in Karoso is also a kind of relaxation: it is breathing the essence of life. I love fishing and the feeling of being so close to nature, the ocean.
After fishing, I usually immediately sell my catch on the beach to buyers who come from outside Karoso. Of course the price is rather cheap compared with the market, but I am too tired to carry the fish to a market — the closest one is about 15 kilometers away.
My big dream is simple: to have better fishing tools so that I can fill more of Karoso’s gifts into my boat.