The Fisherman

Johnstone will wake up at 5:00 am. He will hear his alarm ringing and put his pillow around his ears, and wonder how he ended up here. It’s something he has been struggling with—the point of it all?

He will get out of bed and the cold will introduce him to his day. He will make himself a cup of tea, throw two slices of bread in the toaster and begin to fry some bacon. He is not doing badly, at least, not by society’s standards. He lives in a good neighborhood, drives a decent car, has a job… “What’s the point,” he will hear himself say, as the toaster screams to inform him that his bread is cooked.

Wasn’t his bread cooked when he bought it from the supermarket? He will wonder. Pick the two slices from the toaster and throw them in the dustbin. He will also do the same for the bacon that is sizzling in the pan. After that, he will drain his tea in the sink. He has been eating irregularly, he will realize. That needs to change, does it? He will put a pin on it.

He will jump in the shower, there was a time showering was an occasion for him. He would put on music and sing and dance but now it feels like a chore, something to do and get over with.

He will find himself picking out a suit in his closet. Today he will have to go two notches lower on his belt. After getting dressed, he will pick up his bag, inside, there is a MacBook and an iPad. He needs them to do his job as the company’s Business Development Manager. A title that was once flashy to him but it now feels like a big padlock on his prison cell.

He will get to his sitting room and stare at his big TV and recliner sofas, without exactly seeing them. He will then stare at the wall, where a big painting of a salacious woman will stare back at him. He bought it after bringing in his first business, it had once held meaning but it doesn’t stir anything in him anymore. Next to it is a smaller painting of a fisherman in his dhow—that he bought on a whim. He will stare at it and for a split second, the color will return to his face before it disappears again.

He will pick up his car keys and use the lifts to go to the basement of his apartment block, where his Nissan Teana will be parked. He will open his glove compartment which has a rope, a bottle of rat-and-rat, and a gun. He is yet to decide when he is going to do it, or how he will do it. “What’s the point?” he will mummer.

He will not know how he got to work but he will find himself there. “Good morning John,” the receptionist and his secretary will say. “Good morning,” he will respond. “It’s Johnstone,” he will be thinking. There was a time he had loved it. The attention women give to men in position. He had once enjoyed acting on it but now, all it does is open a gaping hole in him. “What’s the point?” he will find himself murmuring again while entering his office.

His office has an abstract painting that does not mean anything besides look good. He will walk past the meeting area to his desk and bounce through meetings, emails, and phone calls, and before he knows it, it will be evening. 

He will decide to take a walk around town to get some fresh air and as he does he will feel dizzy and sit on a bench. Next to him will be a man selling paintings, one, in particular, will catch his attention. A painting of a fisherman with small print at the bottom that says, ‘Life is for living, not outcome.’ “How much?” he will ask the painter. “A thousand bob,” he will say but Johnstone will give him fifty thousand bob instead. “Thank you for saving my life,” he will say with gratitude to the now dumbfounded painter.

Johnstone will not go back to the office, to his car, or apartment. Instead, he will go downtown, with the painting clutched in his hand. He will purchase a one-way ticket to Homabay and when he gets there, he will rent a small shack and buy a dhow. He will sleep like a baby that night after enjoying a heavy meal of fish and ugali. He will wake up the next morning at 5:00 am. “Life is for living, not outcome,” he will say to himself before joining his fellow fishermen.


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