Michael’s HobbyMichael, a playful African boy, is squatting on a smooth flat-topped oval rock with a small leather bag strung around his neck. His face glitters with joy as he drives a hook through a long earth warm. From a distance, one can mistake the boy for an African priest or seer on his routine morning prayers as the river is also used for religious rituals, but at least not during this period of the year.
August always brings with itself plenty of food as this is not only a harvest season but also a period of light showers that see many rivers throb with fish. The land is wet. Torrents of rain have pounded the ground the whole night. Now the morning sun rays are casting their warm rays on Michael’s back with a promise a fairly hot light day. In his company is Jimmy, the boy’s childhood dog friend who observed his master silently.
After a few silent minutes, of loading all the ten baited fishing hooks, he fits floaters on to the lines, about half a metre from the hook and then finally anchors them on small wooden pegs by their lines. The most crucial part of his hobby is well done and he springs to his feet as he rubs his little palms against each other. Jimmy wags his tail and follows his master around as he dips the hooks one by one into the swollen.
As though possessed by a strange spirit of agility, Michael jumps from one line to another; this time checking the strength of the pegs or the line and the other time is checking the movement of the floaters. He knows he needs to be extra vigilant for him not to miss even a single fish that gets trapped by the sharp hooks he inherited from his late grandfather, who had loved fishing as a hobby. The sun is getting hotter as it rises higher in the clearing sky. A float is rattling violently. Jimmy barks and struts to alert Michael, who is currently attending to a line that had caught a sleek mudfish.
He lays down his first fortune under the dog’s watch in the sand and with his penknife held straight, rushes to attend to the other line. He repeats this for some time and finally collects all the eight fish in a pile on a rock before he roasts them on a born fire he has lit. Jimmy lies down meekly, patiently waiting to be served.