Sunday, October 4, 2015
The Gang of Four goes fishing in Sabak Bernam
[Pixs of models for illustration purpose only]
Seated at the port side of our rented fishing boat, I feel the salty wind blowing in my face as I cast a right glance to the bow.
Wati (right pix) is sitting on the gunwhale, her shapely legs kicking up water. To my left, I catch a glimpse of Jessica and Chow Kah at the stern. They’re holding rods eight feet long which are baited with frogs, alive and thrashing! A cap jammed on his head, Hussein is crouched at the starboard jiggling a line, hoping to land squids.
“Yipee! Something’s tugging my line,” Jessica says, reeling in what seems like a whopper. “Phew! It’s heavy!”
Chow Kah moves to Jessica’s side. “I’ll help you!”
“I’m going for a swim!” Wati says, lowering herself into the water.
Our fishing boat is just a short distance feet from the shore, bobbing amidst reefs where shoals of fish gracefully swim about.
“Something’s wrong!” Hussein yells. “The fishes are agitated!” He casts his gaze to a spot about ten feet ahead, and I can see fishes darting about. “A shark!” He points in the direction of the bow. “There! Can you see its fin?” He scrambles to the bow. “Wati! Quick! Climb aboard!”
A gasp of horror rolls from my lips. “Why's a shark coming after us?”
“I’m having my menstrual period!” Wati screams, almost in tears. “Oh my goodness! It must have smelled the blood!” She clambers aboard, clamping a firm grip on Hussein’s arms.
“I wish my mother-in-law was here!” Chow Kah says, rushing over to Wati’s side.
“Why?” I ask.
“Her face’s so fierce she can scare a shark away!”
“Wrong time for jokes,” Wati says, drying herself with a towel.
I flick my gaze to the gentle waves to my left. “Look, the shark’s swimming away.”
In the stern, Jessica (right pix) releases a whoop of joy. “I've landed the fish! Let’s grill it at the beach.”
“Not so fast,” Hussein says, stepping towards Jessica. “It looks like a king mackerel.” He scrutinizes the fish hanging from Jessica’s hand. “Nope, it’s not safe to be eaten.”
Chow Kah starts to dismantle his rod. “What’s the problem?”
“Many species of reef fish contain a toxin called ciguatera. Horse-eyed jack, king mackerel, yellowtail snapper, amberjack, black grouper, dog snapper and yellowtail snapper are known to carry the toxin. Better be safe than sorry.” Hussein takes the fish from Jessica and throws it back into the sea. “This toxin’s found in microalgae growing on reefs. Small fishes consume the algae and become infected. When bigger fish eat the smaller infected fishes, those at the top of the food chain get the toxin.” He shuffles to the rear of the boat. “Let’s go back.” He yanks the rope of the outboard motor which roars to life.
As we head towards the shore, everybody’s glum. Wati huddles on the seat, her face pale. “I feel sea-sick.” She looks at her arms. “Sheesh! I’m also suffering from sunburn.”
Chow Kah pops a beer can. “This trip’s a fiasco. We landlubbers should not play in water.” He glugs a swallow and runs his gaze down Jessica’s curves.
“Life is like a sport,” Jessica says. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the game always goes on.”