A Trade of Fish: A Past Life pt1

It has been a few weeks since I posted a past life. I have had a few cooking up in my head and figured it was time to share. I am going to try and put this all in one post so be warned it may be long. Since the last life was so intense I am going to at one that is much gentler. I hope you enjoy. In this life I am a woman in my mid twenties. It is early morning. The first slivers of dawn are lighting the dark star filled sky. I am a fisherman's wife. I have been up for a few hours, helping him prepare for the days catch. He is readying his small wooden boat. I am wrapping his nets, checking for loose pieces of rope.  We work in silence, only speaking when one of us needs clarification, which isn't often. We live in south east Asia somewhere. Where the jungle meets the sea. A small shallow bay protected by jagged rocks. Perfect for fish. Our small seaside village is humble and poor. But we are happy. My husband has been a fisherman his whole life, like his father before him, and his great father before that. He is kind and sturdy and for that I love him. We have two small boys. The eldest just old enough to go out in the boat with his father. One day they will both be fishermen, but for now they are sleeping little boys. I love them with all of my heart. I did not know I could love something so deeply before they were born. I say something small to my husband about our son. He is late in rising and will possibly miss breakfast. My husband is very demanding about leaving on time. The best fishing spots are hotly contested. Even at this hour I know there are men and boys in their small craft staking claim to 'their' parts of the bay. I climb inside our small wooden hut. It is tall to protect us from the ebb and flow of the sea. It is little more than two rooms. One room for cooking and eating, the other for sleeping. I go to where my children are asleep. I softly shake the larger boy, saying his name. 'Rise treasure of my heart. Your father is leaving.' He makes a tired groan,' Leaving! But I haven't eaten yet! Why didn't you wake me?' 'You know when you are supposed to wake up.' I tell him. 'There is food, if you hurry you may have time to eat some.' My son fumbles out of his bed on the floor. He pushes his hair out of his face and starts to dress. I go into the other room and ready food for him and my husband. I know my husband wont let our son eat, so I put the mixture of rice and fish into small baskets that I can hide on the boat. I create a special basket full of egg filled rice dumplings. Treats left over from a holy day the previous week. I have been hoarding them from my hungry men.  As my son enters the eating area I can hear my husband call his name. 'Lets go!' He yells. 'Come naked if you have to!' He says trying to embarrass the boy. From the flash of color on his cheeks I can see it is working. A light smile crosses my face. 'You heard him, sleepy eyes.' I tell him as I herd him towards the door. He is crest fallen but he knows not to argue. My husband is a hard master for our son, and for that I love him.  Life is hard work. The sooner my sons learn this the better. Nothing in life is free. Everything has its price and its value. I watch as my son and his father ready the boat. I go to them. I touch my husbands arm, a warm reminder of our love. In the growing light I can just barely see his face. I slip the baskets of food into the boat, and whisper, 'For later.' He makes a noise of acknowledgement. 'Will you see your father today?' He asks me. 'Don't I see him every day?' I reply, knowing what he means. 'Make sure you talk to him. If he cannot give us a better price for the fish I will sell to someone else.' He says with not a hint of humor. 'His honor binds him to us as it does me to him. Remind him of that!' With that he starts to push the small boat into the sea. I rub my son's back giving him a small push towards the boat. He gets the hint and starts to help his father. I tell them, 'Don't come back until you've  emptied the bay!' They laugh. I watch as they wade into the water, then climb aboard. The sun is starting to rise in earnest but I still lose them in the twilight.  They are just one of many boats on the water. I go into our hut and wake my other son. He is so happy to see me and I to see him.  I help him dress and feed him breakfast. He noisily devours the last of the egg dumplings. Even though he is small, only four summers old, he must help me work if we are to get everything done. We start with the nets. The old ones must be cleaned, torn apart for the rope and new ones woven. I have him wrap the lose rope into balls that I can work with later. Some of the rope is so worn that  it is past being used for netting. I will mix that with pitch and resin to help patch up the boat or the house or a million other things. Nothing is wasted. Nothing in this life is trash to a poor fisherman and his family. As the sun rises we move to the fish from yesterday's catch. Some will be dried, some will be eaten by us and the majority of it will be sold by my father at the market. He is a fishmonger. That is what my husband wanted me to talk to him about. Increasing our share of the sale profits. My father had in the past been a fierce and shrewd merchant but has become lax in his older years. As his daughter I am not allowed to take over his stall. Women can only do trade in the women's market, and there only in barter. No gold or silver passes hands. My father has no living sons. Both of my brothers having died of illness.  One as a child and the other a young man just married. My father has an apprentice but he is lack luster at best. My father is feeling his age and hasn't the energy to demand the standards a younger him demanded of me and my brothers. My young son in tow, we carry baskets overflowing with fish into  town. We will make many similar trips this day. 'You're late.' My father's apprentice grumbles as we reach his stall at the edge of the market. 'I didn't realize you were in such need of fish,' I say sarcastically, motioning to the abundance of fish on display. There is no great love between us. To him I am loud and insubordinate, two things no woman should be. To me he is next to useless. A bottom feeder who lives off the dead or dying. It saddens me to think that his meal is my father. In truth though the fish I bring him are the best this stall will get. With my father's decline the fishermen of the village look to other mongers and better prices. It is only out of honor and loyalty that we still bring our bests to this stall. The apprentice is stingy and greedy, he thinks trade is something to be won. He has turned life long friends and business relations into strangers at best and rivals at worst. Trade is a game. Sometimes to win you must lose. In losing, a greater jewel is gained than coin. My father always told me to demand a high price, but do so because what I'm selling is truly worth it. A reputation of fairness is worth all the gold in a customers pocket. I unload my baskets and ask the apprentice where my father is. It is past time that he should be here. As my father ages his actions start to worry me. The strong demanding man I know hidden under time and the weight of life. 'He went to see your uncle,' the apprentice snarls. 'He knows I don't like it when he leaves the stall for his... errands.' I laugh at his discomfort. He glares at me. His words just another reminder of his inadequacy in this trade. I forgot that my uncle, the brother of my great father, was setting off today. My father is probably finishing some business before he leaves. Without notice I gather my son and leave the stall.  I can feel the apprentice's heated stare on my back. I take small pleasure from my cool dismissal of him. I feel like a traitorous brigand but I have been making overtures to other merchants. For when it is just the apprentice. My father has lost his vigor for life, even though he is not that old of a man. It is bad luck to think like this but I do not know what the future holds for my father. He has been different since my brother died. Life has been different. I make my way to the women's market. I find a friend and ask if I can leave my son with her. She agrees. I leave her some of the fish. Some she will keep and some she will trade for me while I am away.  I trust her to get me a fair value. I walk through the busy muddy streets to where I know my uncle and father to be. It is my uncle's trading post in the village. A small building, barely more than a warehouse and open air pens. He has rooms along the side for him or his men. I greet the man at the door who lets me in. I remove my muddy shoes and wipe my feet. I can hear my father's voice. He is irritated by something. I wait for them to wrap up their conversation, not wanting to be rude. 'Why couldn't she have died instead of him?' I hear my father ask, talking about me. 'Or better yet why couldn't she have been a son. I would have still let her marry that fisherman she loves so much. The scandal that would have been. Though I suppose he wouldn't have wanted her as a man.' My father kind of rambles, his thoughts drifting as he talks. I smile to myself at his words. They may sound harsh but I know they are sincere and full of his love for me. I make a noise drawing attention to myself. The two men see me and welcome me into the room. The previous conversation completely ignored to prevent embarrassment. I bow to them both in respect and reverence. 'Daughter!' My father exclaims reaching his hand out to me. I take his hand in mine and he pats my wrists. He calls me a word that translates to 'My sweet delicate fish cake.' A term of endearment he gave me in childhood. As a girl the smells of fish would mingle with the delicate flower oils my mother would put in my hair. The two competing smells creating a third that wasn't all together unpleasant. 'Just the woman I wanted to see!' My uncle says. 'Please talk some sense into this old man!' He says referring to a man two decades his junior. 'That apprentice needs to go!' I so love this man, but I know to keep my opinions to myself. 'Why is that, uncle?' I ask. 'He is bleeding us dry! He takes more than he should and gives back almost nothing. The fishermen hate him, the merchants despise him. If it weren't for the miracle fish from your husband, your father would have nothing but eel skins and fish bones.' The man rants. 'You would think he is fishing in a different bay the fish he gets.' He says referring to my husband. I smile at the comment. My father on the other hand is not so pleased. He knows that my uncle's words are true, but he can see no solution for them. 'I am old,' He whines. 'What can I do? He was the only apprentice I could find. Someone needs to take over when I die.' 'OLD?' My uncle bellows! 'When I was your age I was opening a new trade post every month! OLD indeed. The only death you suffer is the one you put yourself through every day. He is gone. It is true, but you still live. You MUST still live.' The anger and grief plain on my father's face. I can tell he has much to say but he holds his tongue. He knows his words would be inappropriate and he doesn't want to offend the head of his family. A man who in many ways is our patron by both blood and deeds. My uncle makes no comment on my father's emotional display. Out of kindness or lack thereof I don't know. My uncle is shrewd and does not miss much. He continues with his rant. 'What about one of your daughter's sons? The oldest though young, is old enough to train.' 'Bah, the fisherman has plans for those two. He won't even listen to reason.' My father grumbles. 'He would rather deal with strangers than let those boys follow in another man's footsteps. All that I've done for that ingrate.' In this I agree with my father. I have two children and may yet have more. Why not let one of them be a fishmonger instead of a fisherman. My husband says that every man in his family since this age began was a fisherman. He isn't going to change this tradition now. I ask him about the cousin who became a monk. He isn't doing much fishing as he begs on the side of the road. My husband tells me that at least he can fish should he need it. I am not satisfied with his answer but I know not to press my husband in this. His family rises and my family falls. I am not mad but I do wish there was a better answer. The line of my fathers slowly but surely ran the course from noble merchant family to humble fishermen. My great father, didn't have the enterprising spirit of my uncle. He found a peaceful seaside village and married the first girl who would have him.  My father, while not technically his son, was his life long apprentice, and married my great father's daughter. My mother. 'You need to figure this out,' My uncle says. 'You will always be welcome in my heart but unless things improve your business will not.' The threat heavy in his words. My uncle's love would only carry him so far.   Ok so I lied.  There is still a large chunk of the life I will hold onto for another day. I did not expect this much info to come through.  I haven't even gotten to the main theme of the life yet. It seemed important though to present everything as I have. I hope you enjoyed. If you are interested in getting a past life reading or learning how to read past lives please look HERE. Thanks so much and have a psychic day!

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