The article first appeared as the cover story in the international edition of think archipelago magazine V3. The coastal area down the south of Java poses tsunami hazard. But in a tragedy that happened once in several decades, the locals consider it their safe backyards. These people, strong and able, have always something interesting to tell.
Standing on the river mouth when the sun is at its peak, villagers at the shore line of Sukabumi, West Java, are set to go fishing. Under the scorching sun, some of them wore caps while other put on hoods on their jackets. A group of them came down from Cikaso village to the river mouth, where the streams directly flow to the Indian Ocean. It is well-known for its constant high tides.
At the shore close to the river mouth, the group of men found a perfect spot as they spread the fishing net to intercept the movement of sea creatures. Sometimes more sea crabs were trapped by their nets than the fish. This could last for hours until the sun neared the horizon.
A couple of meters form them stood a boy who carried a hand-woven bucket to keep the catches. He did not bother to shield his head. His face reflected the sun light. His forehead outshone the rest other adult peers, and the traces of sunburn had integrated with his dark complexities.
He was accustomed to seeing the world with narrowed eyes because in his world, sun light is abundant. He would wait there until fishing time was over, and returned home carrying a few catches. It cost him a day to bring home food or, even luckier, extra money. Rolling the sands On a regular day for normal children like him, days would be spent at school and afternoons at home. But it was only dancing wave on the sandy beach that he found something to play with. He could not help but to wait for her father returning from the shallow waters across. They did not speak much. The sea wind that blows and the splashes of waves took the role as auditory accompaniment.
Besides, the second thing that kept him company in the hours of near pointlessness was a plastic ball he brought from home. Sometimes he cuddled it while frolicking on the sands as a way of enjoying playing. But it did not bounce from someone else’s feet, because there was no one there to play with him.
The scene where he rolled on the sands holding a fish bucket on one hand and ball on the other seized a dramatic moment that revealed the life pattern of this boy. Meanwhile, his father saw the number of catches that day, and he was never impressed. But the father and son would come back again the next day, and the days after.