Thank you for joining me again to take a look at some past lives. This past life is tuning out to be increasingly involved so I am unsure exactly how it will unfold. It will probably have at least two more parts after this one. Only time will tell. Enjoy! If you have not read parts 1 and 2 you can find them below . A Trade of Fish: A Past Life PT1 A Trade of Fish: A Past Life PT2
I am openly crying, tears streaming down my cheeks. I love my family, my father most of all. The young fisherman grabs my hand. He gives me a sad soft smile.
“You don't have to do this,” he whispers. “Our love isn’t worth this.”
A fire rises in my belly. It is worth this! With the resolution of a head strong young girl, my frustration and sadness turn to anger. Fine, if my father wants to cast me out that is his doing. I will not destroy the chances of my new family before it has even begun!
I give my father my answer. I will marry the fisherman, and forfeit my place in my his family forever. As I say the words, his face changes. It will take me years to fully understand the look of anger and betrayal mixed with deep disappointment and sadness.
"So it is done." My father says.
My mother is openly sobbing, loudly and uncontrolled. She begs me to change my mind. She looks to my father. The pain and grief clear on her features. My brother and sister are quiet but my brother has a stern and disapproving look. My sister is worried and unsure.
The awkward tension hangs in the air as the only thing I can hear is the sound of my own breath and my mother's sobs. It is clear I have out stayed my welcome. I move towards my room to gather some belongings when my father says.
"That is the way to my Daughter's room, and she is dead." His voice cold and lifeless.
I am stunned that he would refuse me even this. The young fisherman puts his arms around me and herds me to the door. I am shaking in anger and disbelief. My father leaves the room, not wanting to watch me go.
My mother begs me to stay. "We can undo this!" She pleads.
I am so enraged that I do not hear her words. The man who will be my husband slowly and steadily ushers me out of the house. I step into the world. The sun feels bright and hot after all the dark and angry conversation. What just happened I think. I walk with the two men to the other side of the village. We don't say much and it is hard for me to just put one foot in front of the other. Their hut is on the border of town near the waters edge, where the bay meets the sea. The place that is now my new and only home.
I enter the hut. It is small and dark and dirty. The gravity sinks in. My anger which was white hot just moments ago is turning to shock. To dread. My father was not the greatest or wealthiest of men but our life was comfortable and clean. I start to regret my decision. Once again my anger grows. I realize that he would hold the lives of these poor simple men hostage for nothing but his pride. What kind of man is he? I am realizing that my father is not the man I believed him to be.
The elder fisherman tells me I can have the back room to myself, until his son and I are married. It is not really a room, just a curtained off area of the hut with rush sleeping mats on the floor. After the events of the day I am exhausted. I sink to the floor and the weight of my weariness dissolves the last shreds of strength I have been clinging to. I start to sob. All composure lost. The young fisherman moves to comfort me but his father stops him.
"Let her cry," he says softly. "She has earned it." I can hear the respect in his voice for the choice I have had to make.
I cry myself to sleep. When I wake it is night and I can hear my sister's voice. The young man I love is gently shaking me awake.
"She has some things for you. From your mother." The young man says.
My sister enters my little room and falls to the floor to embrace me. I can tell she has been crying even through the dark dim light. We are both crying now, clinging to the warmth and life of the other.
"What a fine place you find yourself." She says as she looks around. I half laugh half sob. I do have a knack for getting into trouble.
"Your mother says its not too late to come back, to come home. She says your father didn't really mean it. He has been mopey and withdrawn since you left. I think she may be right." She says encouragingly. "Please come home."
"Whatever he meant, he still made me choose!" I say heatedly.
My sister's demeanor changes. Her sadness returns. "Your mother sent some things in case you wouldn't come back." She says as she hands me a small bundle.
It is full of personal items. Clothing, an ivory comb, a set of brass and jade earrings I got on my last name day, and some of the perfume my mother sometimes lets me wear.
"Three of the dresses are yours and one is hers, for when you grow and need something more." I think of my small frame, just barely a woman. "She also sends food. Its not much but she thought you would want something other than fish."
She looks me in the eyes and embraces me close. I can feel her fresh warm tears against my cheek. "Please come home." Her ragged breath in my ear. I squeeze her tight and tell her I cannot.
"I love you," she whispers. "I will dream for you," she says, meaning she will pray for prosperity and good fortune to bless me with happier days.
She lets go of me and gets up. She quietly leaves the hut. If she said anything to the two men I did not hear. The span of time between her arrival and departure feels like an instant and I miss her the moment she is gone. This heaviness in my heart is intense and I know it will be long lasting.
I unwrap the food and go to where the men are. I offer to share, and while simple, it is an extravagant feast compared to their meager stores of rice and fish. My mother has sent roasted quail, chicken and pork slices. There is a pot of green vegetables and onions in a sweet and spicy gravy. One container has three eggs and another has savory almond crackers. I can tell that the food makes the men feel uncomfortable but they greedily eat it up.
When I am done I excuse myself back to the sleeping area and try to sleep. I am too exhausted to cry but too emotional to sleep. I lay awake thinking about what has become of my life. I can hear the men outside talking gently, just quiet enough that I cannot make out the words. At some point I fall asleep. When I awake the sun is high in the sky and the hut is empty. The two men having left to start their work hours past.
I look around my new home. It is small, cramped, and dirty but it is home. While the men are working I try my best to cook and clean for them. I hope to be done before they arrive at the end of the day. I do neither particularly well but they seem thankful when they see what I have done.
The fisherman and I were married a day and a half later. It would have been too shameful to let a girl, barely a woman, live with two men who were not her husband or her father. My mother and sister snuck out during the day to help me get ready. My mother had hidden money from my father in case of an emergency. He knew what she was up to but he didn't seem to mind as he was a frugal and fastidious man himself. It was only years later that my mother told me he had forbidden her using her meager stash on me. She used it to pay the monk and as an offering for love and good fortune to come my way.
With tears in her eyes she told me that it wasn't to late to go back. I motioned around to the small hut, me in my simple but clean dress, the festive beads and flowers in my hair and said, "Isn't it?" She sighed and hugged me close. One long full embrace in a situation she could neither fix or control. When she moved away from me she gave me a single last longing look and left. She hadn't wanted to leave but there was no way my father would have tolerated her at my wedding. My sister was pushing the bounds of what was right or honorable but she said nothing could keep her away.
My wedding was small, simple, and short. There was no silk gown, no colored pinions, no moon cakes. There was no feast or festival. There was no family. My family had rejected me and the fisherman had none save for his father. A village wedding is usually an excuse for celebration. A welcome reprieve from a life of hard work but not this time. The knowledge of my disgrace was quickly spread and made the village uncomfortable. My family was the source of income for a good majority of them. They didn't know how to treat me or where I fit now that I had been cast aside. Some of them did still send us small gifts and well wishes as was custom.
My wedding felt more like a trade or business deal. The monk had a notice from my father. Every girl or woman needed one to wed. It was permission to leave her father's house. Mine was a letter of dishonor and dis-ownership, though the monk had said it worked just the same. My mother had brought it earlier, with the simple dress and the flowers she had put in my hair.
The words were said and it was done. I was married.
As the days passed I was taught how to be the wife and daughter of fishermen. As a fish monger's daughter I already knew all the different types of fish, but they showed me how to clean and dry them. They taught me how to make rope and twine, how to weave and dismantle nets. They taught me how to handle the boat and even took me out on the water a few times. I was an open and attentive pupil. With all the noise and change my marriage had caused I could tell that my new father was happy to have me around. I could do the work on land that they normally had to do. This meant they could stay out on the water and catch more fish.
When I learned they wanted me to start carrying the fish to my father's stall in the market I was terrified. It had been almost a month since my father had disowned me. I had refused my mother's overtures a handful of times. My mind was made up. My path set in motion.
The basket was heavy. I had overloaded it in the hopes that I would only have to make the one trip. I couldn't lift it and had to drag it through the narrow muddy streets. when I reached my father's stall I saw him for the first time in weeks. He looked sullen and tired. I heard him snap at one of his workers and he slapped him along the back and shoulders. That shocked me. I had never seen him react in such a way. He look my direction and I saw his face change. A small uplift in his gaze and attitude. His eyes looking at me longingly. Then it soured and he turned away. He told his worker to help me because he had things to do. With that he left the stall.
The worker helped me unload the basket and gave me a fair price for the trade. I tried to talk to him, a young man barely older than I, but he was uncomfortable and didn't say much. It was much faster and painless than I thought it would be. Which was a blessing as I had to make five more trips that day. This sort of became a routine. My father would see me, make an excuse and leave. Then I would deal with whomever was in the stall. One day it was my brother. His look was dark and disapproving. His voice was hard when he asked me why I tortured our father this way.
"Hasn't he been through enough? Do you have to continue to haunt him?"
I was incredulous at what he was implying! Like this was something I designed to hurt our father. "Do you forget the price I paid to sell my husband's fish at this stall? What he demanded of me as payment?" I said my voice gravely and full of hurt. "And now you think I should give that up as well to save his poor heart and head?"
My brother looked embarrassed but was still defensive. "You didn't have to go through with this. You could have fixed this."
"Well so could he." I snap back. "Just pay me for the fish and I will go." I say as I start to heap fish in his direction.
"Stop." He says and grips my shoulder. I look into his face. " I'm sorry, you don't have to go. Everything has been so wrong since you left. Nothing is as it was, but I have to stand strong behind him. For the family."
"For the family," I grumble. "My family is on that bay catching fish." I say, more than just a hint of bitterness in my voice.
With sadness and anger my brother says, "Yes, they are."
And so it went on, day after day until years had passed. Years I regret. Years of love and family lost to bitterness and pride.
My sister had become a mother and then too soon she lost her son. The boy was barely two summers old when he caught a wasting sickness and died. I wanted to be there for her but the distance between the family and me made that impossible. The following winter disease struck again. We had heard rumors of war and plague in the great cities of the Han to the north east, but we had heard rumors before. It started slowly. A sick merchant's guard or a weary traveler with shifty eyes, not wanting to stay long. I do not know who was affected first, but before long half the village had this unknown sickness. An illness that left people delirious with fever and an erratic body that twitched and shook for no apparent reason. From the half who got it half of those people died. My Mother and Brother were among them.
I was heavy with my first child at the time and I was grateful to have not caught the disease myself. My husband had become sick but was doing well and on the mend. His father had unfortunately died. The older man, though in good spirits, had quickly relapsed after a short period of what had appeared to be recovery. I was devastated at the death of the man who had taken me into his heart and home when my own father had removed me from his. Though pained, it was not the time to despair. People were dying all around me, and grieving and pregnant or not, there was work to be done.
My Father's household had been particularly hard hit. At one point everyone who lived and worked there was ill. I couldn't stand the thought of my mother or sister dying helpless and alone. I talked it over with my husband and decided I would help nurse them back to health. It was strange seeing the house after almost four years. The strangest thing was the air of disarray and sickness. It had always been filled with such life and vitality. Now the stench of rotting food and human waste permeated the space with stagnancy and decay.
I went in search of my family. They were awkwardly spread throughout the house in various states of sickness. My father was worse off than any of the others. I hoped that in his condition he wouldn't realize I was there. It made me feel guilty to think that way but it was true. I gathered them all into a room adjoining my father's so they would be easier to care for. Some could walk on their own, like my sister, and others had to be carried, like my mother and brother. Being pregnant I was unable to help much but luckily my father had friends and workers who lived with him. In all nine people were still alive. A handful of others were dead. One of my father's sisters and her small grandson, visiting from the inland. My mother's maid, a couple of laborers and a kind ancient man who had worked for my great father. I knew that I couldn't take care of this alone.
With the help of some of the villagers we turned my father's home into a sort of sick house. They helped me remove the dead bodies and clean up before bringing in more of the sick and dying. All but the very worst cases were moved to our makeshift hospital. It allowed me to spend more time tending my mother and brother. My sister, though miserable was already starting to feel better. My brother was gone in fever dreams. His body constantly twisting and writhing. It was only a matter of hours before he took one last strained breath and was gone. His own body choking the life away. It was a relief to see his body motionless and at peace. I sat with my mother, she was barely conscious and struggling to breath. At one point she gazed up at me. I could see clarity in her eyes. She smiled and I felt her soft weak hand rest on my pregnant belly.
"You came back," my mother croaked. "I told you it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe when this baby comes I won't have to sneak off to that smelly hut like a thief just to see my grand child."
With a small sad laugh I said, "Maybe." I sat with her a while longer as she babbled on about my baby and our future. All the things that would be different. Eventually she stopped talking and her breathing became labored and shallow. Her death wasn't as fitful as my brother's but like him she took one last breath and died. I smoothed the hair out of her face and looked at her features. She looked so much older than I remembered her being. Even after just a few short weeks. With tears in my eyes I had her body moved to another part of the house to be with my brother. Their bodies would be burned and their ashes interred in a family shrine.
When I told my sister of their deaths she was almost inconsolable. For a while we sat and cried.
"What about you father?" She asked me.
"What about him?" I replied. "He is still doing fine as far as I know. Sick but fine. If life were kind he would die too and then all of this would be done with."
"How can you say that?" My sister saaid, shock and disapproval hard in her voice. "Your mother just died and this is how you honor her? She would be appalled by your cruelty."
She was right. My mother had just died and this was no way to behave. My mother had always believed that somehow my father and I would reconcile. She had prayed and hoped and begged. She had even resorted to trickery a time or two only to drive us further apart. Now that she was gone may actions made me feel ashamed and regretful.
Against my better judgement, I went to check on my father.
Here is the end of part 3. This past life is turning to be much longer than I expected. Probably 2 more parts at least. I hope you enjoyed this.
The themes of this past life go so much deeper than I first anticipated them to go. It hits me to the core in my own life. It is chilling to think that stubbornness, anger, and pride can destroy the things we hold most dear.
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!