Sunday, 28 September 2008

Stuck in a Storm

"Trust the squid. They know when something's up." ~Nina Chaiyapin

Many people like to metaphorically write about getting stuck in a storm to convey a sense of fear, frustration, and difficulty in their lives, but how many actually have been stuck in a real storm?

Well, in my case, I was literally in one this past Saturday.

It was a perfect leisurely afternoon while our family took a boat out to this makeshift hut/platform in the middle of the sea, off the coast of Lamchabang Sea Port, to go fishing. We had high hopes that we'd catch lots of fish, especially squid, since my brother just did it with his friend three weeks ago. Fishermen often have stories. My brother and friend, although not real fishermen, had their own.
They came back with more than 10 kg of large fish and squid and lots more they had to give away. Every time they cast the fishing line, they caught something. One after another. They barbecued the fish and squid right away. The meat tasted so sweet. So many fish. Wow, we were mesmerized by the magic of the fish and the sea.

Three weeks later he booked us the same boat. But this time our whole family and a few of my parents' employees went. There were ten of us.

After fishing for awhile, we didn't catch much that day. The men who took us out said because there had been more water coming down from the floods in northern provinces, raising the fresh water level in the sea. (Whatever they told us, we believed. What did we know about fishing anyway?) After a long time of not catching anything the men told us that we could use the net. The first time we let down the net, we caught so many squid and some fish. Everybody was excited that we got to eat finally. We barbecued the meat. Like my brother said, fresh seafood tasted so, so sweet. Before we decided to leave, the boat men said we should let down the net again and catch more fish/squid to bring home. Alright, let's do it. I was getting sleepy now that my stomach was full. But this time, we only caught some small fish and not even a single squid. Strange it seemed. Not a single one. In hindsight, I realized that the squid knew all along that something was up.

Soon the storm came. Around 9pm, right before we decided to go back to shore. It started with light showers. And within minutes, it began to pour. The rain sent us scrambling inside the bamboo shack, huddled together and curled up like balls, or rather runaway refugees. Whatever, at least we didn't have to get wet as we were waiting for the rain to stop. But it didn't. Instead, water started leaking down the tin roof, and I was getting uncomfortable. Some tried to cover themselves with plastic bags, but to no avail. More water came down and soaked many of us. My mom and I scooted all the way into a corner, sat in fetal position, and was spared of getting soaked. My dad shouted that all life savers be passed around, even though there were only six for the ten of us. Then the wind started howling and there was a loud crash against the bamboo stilts beneath us. A big jolt. Then another. And another. The hut started swaying out of control. So much rain outside now, we could only see gray. I was squeezing my mom's hand and wanted to cry, but nothing came out. I couldn't say anything. Fear reigned. A few of us tried to crack a joke, but no one laughed.

In silence, in fear, I started to think what would happen if the roof got blown off and we fell into the water. I could swim okay, but what about my mom. Which way would the current carry us? How about my dad? He's a good swimmer, but he hadn't swum for ages. Who else couldn't swim among us? Could we still communicate in panic? Another jolt. The hut started shaking like you were on a ride at an amusement park. More wind. Thunder. Another thunder in the sky as well as in my mind. I closed my eyes and prayed. I wanted to sleep and pretended nothing happened when I woke up. I still held on to my mom. Her face was so still. I couldn't tell if she was afraid or not.

After about an hour, the storm eventually subsided. Even though I had lots of scary thoughts on my mind, I also remembered the passage in the Scripture where Jesus and his disciples were on a boat when it was caught in a storm. Jesus fell asleep and the disciples were so scared, they woke him up. Remembering that gave me a slight hope. Maybe next time, I could at least be more calm in a storm, metaphorically or literally.

All in all, it was still an amazing experience so much so that my family and I couldn't stop talking about it. It was so awesome to be able to share something like that with my family. God had answered many of my prayers that night. Not only that we came out alive, but I got to share memorable experiences with my family. The thing that I have always craved for and don't have very much of.