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TTT.S1E2 ✺ The fish-woman's son

This time tomorrow is an on-going story experiment that explores questions we have about the future. How will people connect? How would we work, consume and unwind? What would we value? What would we search for?

We asked some interesting people to imagine a year from now and brought their predictions alive through stories. This is what we see.

Predictions by Dr. Asoka de Zoysa

Photography by Reg Van Cuylenburg

Story by Public Works

The fish-woman's son

Channa met Johnny almost thirty years ago, when they were boys. Johnny came shouldering a pingo load of fish, accompanying his pipe-smoking, loud-mouthed mother. While cycling down the alleyway by the sea, Channa would peer at Johnny’s makeshift house near the dirty beach. Like in a television show, Channa could piece together Johnny's days made with the endless cycle of his fisherman father sailing out to red sunsets, returning at pink dawns with the catch and a bottle of arrack, only to sing himself to a drunken stupor; while his mother cursed, cooked, fed Johnny and the kids, packed her pipe and loaded fish into the pingo—sometimes all at once. Later, these huts were demolished, and the fishing families were moved somewhere else by the Municipality. The alleyway became the Marine Drive; it even had a supermarket.

Channa forgot about Johnny until thirty something years later, when they reencountered during the sixty day curfew. Johnny flashed the same bent smile that his mother had, holding back the smoke. Throughout the curfew, Johnny would risk selling fish along Marine Drive before the cops caught wind. Although Johnny continued to sell fish even after the curfew, he eventually stopped coming.

Channa often wondered about the old fish-woman’s son—half out of some inarticulate guilt, half out of the nostalgia for his boyhood’s typical Sunday when Johnny’s mother would sit in the garden smoking her pipe and cleaning fish. He asked around the neighbourhood; but, already knew the answer. Nothing is poorer than the dreams of the poor.


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