|I help my father lower the anchor of his boat before going to school. It’s not a school per se. Just a place where children of my age gather and wait for an elder to teach us something. But the elders would always be passed out on the deck.
Father would be one of them. If he gets his hand on a heavy-deavy fish, he would celebrate and drink himself to oblivion. If he returns empty handed, he would curse the weather, the winds and the ocean currents, again drinking himself to oblivion.
The ocean is running out of fish, my father said this morning. You learn to read and write, boy. When you grow up there would hardly be any fish in the ocean.
The ocean is running out of fish, he murmured and went back inside the house.
At school I announce what my father had told me. They all burst into laughter
Your father must’ve seen the dead body of your mother in the ocean and now he’s afraid to go fishing, says someone.
Punches! More punches! Everyone joins in even though they have nothing to do with the fight.
Nose, bleeding. Tooth, broken. Lips, torn. That’s how I return home. Father is asleep. I don’t wake him up. I clean the wounds and spit the broken tooth in the sink.
That’s when I recall the tales of tooth fairy my mother used to tell.
I go to bed, with the tooth and the memories of my dead mother. The moonlight falls directly on my pillow. Maybe that’s an auspicious sign - for the fairy to descend from the moon and fulfill my wish. I place the tooth under my pillow and pray - Let the fish return to the ocean and with them my mother, the mermaid, too.