Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
I hadn’t visited it for many years. It’s like anything I suppose, the more time rolls forward the more things get left behind. But this place was special and I never should have left it alone for as long as I did.
My grandfather was a fisherman. Not one who owned or worked on a boat. Not one who would cut out into the waves and feel at perfect ease as the land fell away far beneath. But he was no less hardy as he waded into the swell up to his knees and whipped with awesome might the great rod in his hands. Forever searching and dreaming of those great snapping beasts that shone as they were pulled to the light.
As with all lovers of the the catch, my grandfather had a favoured and secret spot where he would go and hide and fish. This remote tiny cove upon which I now stand. And, again, the wind whips the foam from the waves and drives its salt sting to my face.
My grandfather has been dead for many years now and so I guess it’s OK to tell you about Oeo. It’s not a town, just farmland and I think there was a pub but, maybe, now there is not.
Oeo. My grandfather would joke relentlessly that it is the same forward as it is backward. Not so much a joke as it was a statement of fact. But, then, he could make anything fun.
We had family friends that owned a dairy farm there and my grandfather would drive me in his blue station wagon through the hoof worn muddy rut of its fields.
He was a maniac. Hardened by war and a youth of devil may care, he’d pummel that old car at breakneck speed. Only to swerve and slide to a halt just feet from where the cliff-top slumped and fell away beneath the chomp of the Tasman Sea’s relentless decaying bite.
Then, with his backpack filled with the stench of bait that permeated the sandwiches my grandmother had made and his rods hoisted atop his shoulder, he’d disappear down the sheer face of the cliff.
A makeshift ladder of driftwood led us to this secret spot. This parapet outcrop of boulders from atop which we’d sit and wait for the tug of the fish.
I stand here now with my young son. His hand blue in mine and I look and I see my Grandfather up on the rocks. He is not someone else nor a trick of the light through the lash of the rain.
It is him.
In this moment I know. I know that memories can curdle and rot. That precious moments don’t fade in time, they linger and wait.
His skin is grey and paper-thin and riddled with holes and his ruined shirt flaps as the salt and wind seep through and crash and beat in the hollow of his chest.
“What are you waiting for, old man?”, I shout out into the wind and the tiny blue hand it tightens.
He turns and he smiles. I love this old man.
“It’s the same way backward as it is forward!”, he replies.
And the words that carry on the icy gusts warm me and the tip of his rod suddenly cranes and points out into the swell.
“You see him, right?”, I say to the wide-eyed boy at my side.
“Yes Dad, I most surely can and I think that he’s got a fish.”