Sun | Dec 10, 2017

Tony Deyal | Sundays with Peter

Published:Saturday | August 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM

St Peter was someone I could get along with. As I sat in what was called First Standard of the village Anglican or EC school, learning to read, write and make the most of the teacher's frequent absences from class, or in Sunday school, the stories in the compulsory Bible studies were the major attraction.

My Aunty Haroon had already taught me to read from the Trinidad Guardian, and my writing was doomed to be deemed 'crapaud foot', so I admired Peter, the rock on which the Church of Christ was built. I found his behaviour entirely appropriate when Christ's life was in jeopardy, double jeopardy in fact. Christ had the answer, but Peter asked the question with a sword. My favourite, the King James Version of the Bible, says, "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus." While one must ask what Peter was doing with the sword if it was not to protect Jesus and the others, few people will question his courage. Except me.

My reservation started at the Sea of Galilee. Matthew says, "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him."

This is where Peter and I part company. I don't have a problem with Andrew. James and John left Zebidee, their father, and I can understand. When my father had me washing the car or cleaning the yard and I got a chance to run away, I did so. James and John were repairing nets, and for those of you who appreciate that a net is a set of holes held together by twine, there is no joy in the work. But Peter and Andrew were actually fishing and they left the net and walked away. They had to be inseine.

Look, if I had a net trying to catch some herrings for what we in Trinidad call "a la vive" or live-bait fishing, my mind already focused on heading out to catch some kingfish, and anyone comes up to me and tell me to stop fishing for fish and start trolling for men, I would have a distinct problem with that.

I would be mannerly and courteous in my reply trying not to insult someone who could be, as he claims, the Son of God. "Mr Jesus," I would say with a smile, "we are a bit busy here this morning as we are trying to catch a few sprite and then go out and hook some big ones. We don't have the right bait to fish for men. Women might be more our style, but now is not the time for that either. The tide is rising. If you want to talk, or you want something to cook, check us later."

The fact is, I can believe that Peter pulled a sword and cut off a man's ear. I can believe that Peter was the rock on which the Church was built. But I cannot believe any true fisherman would leave his net without pulling it up and walk away from it. He must have wondered in all his wanderings what he caught that fateful day except religion.

 

NO GREATER JOY

 

There is no greater joy in the world for me, no more satisfying feeling, than sitting in a fishing boat (or pirogue as we call them here) on a sea with a slight chop and a roll or two, hearing the Yamaha 55 purring, heading out to where we can reduce the speed of the boat, let the many fathoms of steel line out and wait for the fish to bite.

I don't have a rod, and the staff on the boat has a gaffe at the end of it. I hate rods because fishing out in the Atlantic off the north coast of Trinidad is a macho thing. When even the smallest bonito can bite like Mike Tyson, and the biggest kingfish has the power to pull you right out of the

23-foot boat into the ocean, you feel the surge when it grabs the artificial lure and you know you have a fight literally on your hands.

My wife, Indranie, knows that the lure in my heart is not artificial. It is a real passion for fishing and is a variation of the old Chinese saying. Cook a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and you get rid of him for the whole weekend. In my early days, it was cricket, football and whatever other game was in season, now it is game fishing for which I am always game.

Sometimes, moving my handheld line to and fro hoping to attract a big fish, I think of how comfortable I am in a boat. I have never got seasick in my life, and my two sons are the same. I always tell the story about my big son, George. We were in a boat heading to Tobago and the weather heading straight into the Atlantic was really bad. Big waves and the ship tossing like an elephant with insomnia. We needed to eat, and I bought roast beef sandwiches.

I must confess that I was a little queasy after I ate mine and looked at George, who seemed to have also succumbed to the combination of food and stormy weather. I asked him, "George, you all right? What happen? You feeling sick?" He looked at me and then said hesitantly, "Dad. Can I have another sandwich?"

Zubin is the same. We leave before six, grab some water and put together cheese sandwiches. We rush to meet our friend, Peter, the fisherman who owns a boat named Pedro and who loves fishing and company in that order. We head out optimistically.

Zubin generally has breakfast as we speed out through the heavy waves. Peter has a Christmas tree rig with pink artificial squids. The scientific community had an online petition asking for a group of squid to be called a 'squad' instead of a 'shoal'.

Peter's rig looks like a mod squad. When we start fishing, he slips his foot into the rope to which the squid rig is tied and steers the boat. No conversation. That will start when we catch our first. Even though fish carry their own scales, we always argue about how much each one we catch weighs.

When we don't get a bite, I inevitably say that the school this bunch attends is no elementary school, it is a university, and that is why they're smart enough not to bite something artificial. And then, sometimes, I get a bite that feels like it can tear my arm off and all is forgotten, lost in the thrill. I can understand St Peter. If you see a man take two fish and feed 5,000 people with them, you know that the bottom has dropped out of the fish market and you might as well get into the religion business. Ask Joel Osteen, Pat Robinson, Kenneth Copeland, and the Vatican.

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that he loves fishing for the same reason fish love worms. He's hooked on it.