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A Fish and a Gift
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A Fish and a Gift
Writer: Liesl Jobson
Illustration: Jesse Breeytenbach
© Liesl Jobson, Jesse Breytenbach,
Andy Thesen and bookdash.org, 2014
A Fish and a Gift
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One special Friday Yusuf’s father gets dressed before a flicker of light brightens the sky.
He pulls on his heavy weather-proof jacket and green woollen cap that covers his ears.| He waves his boy goodbye.
Yusuf’s eyes brighten when Papa says,| “Today is the day I will catch a fish and bring home a gift for you.”
A Fish and a Gift
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A fish and a gift?| Oh, what will it be?
Papa cycles down to Muizenberg Beach.| Squeak, squeak go the wheels all the way to Surfer’s Corner.
Gulls circle the sky.| “Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?” they cry.| “What will you bring back for Yusuf?”
Papa rings his bell.| “Wait and see what it will be!”
A Fish and a Gift
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The fishermen watch the sun rise.
They check their nets.| They check their oars.| They listen to the wind.
They drag their boats down to the water.| Yusuf’s grandfather,| Oupa Salie| was a treknet fisherman.
Before his father,| Oupagrootjie Ridwaan,| knew the sea too.
A Fish and a Gift
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The boat rides into the waves.
Papa’s arms stretch to the oar.| His leg braces against the side.
His neck strains,| his back muscles ripple.
Papa sings as he works:| “Drop and swish.| Find a fish.| Pull and plop.| Don’t you stop.”
A Fish and a Gift
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All day long Yusuf looks at the sky.| It is bright and clear and windless.
A fish and a gift!| What will Papa bring home from the sea?| Sometimes he brings a beautiful shell.
Sometimes he brings a jewel green bottle rinsed by the waves.
A Fish and a Gift
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Some days Yusuf’s father brings a story.
Like the time they found sea turtles on the sand,| hundreds washed up in a storm.
“Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?”| cried the gulls.| “What will you do to help the turtles?”
Papa said,| “We saved those turtles,| I tell you straight.| We sent them back to the ocean,| every last one.”
A Fish and a Gift
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Always Papa brings a song.
He sings the song while he pulls the oars.| He sings the song while he pulls the nets.
He sings the song as he winds the ropes.| He sings the song as he cycles home.
“Drop and swish.| Find a fish.|| Pull and plop.|| Don’t you stop.”
A Fish and a Gift
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Ouma Safiya wants a nice fat yellowtail for her supper.|| Mother wants a new dress.
“Don’t be silly,”| says Ouma.| “You’ll be lucky if they even catch a tiny crab.| More likely it will be a fish tail Friday.| There’s not so many fish left in the sea.”
Yusuf holds Ouma’s hand.| They cross the road at the bathing cabins.
“Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?”| cry the gulls perched on the bright rooftops.| “What's for supper?”
A Fish and a Gift
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Last year the fishermen fought with the surfers.| Angry fists and shouting words.
“Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?”| cried the gulls.
“There’s enough sea for everybody,”| said Yusuf’s father.| He showed them the fishing license that had once been Oupa Salie’s.| “Waves for all.| Water for free.”
A Fish and a Gift
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Ouma Safiya watches through her binoculars,| her fingers curled in curiosity.
The shark siren sounds.
Swimmers run back to the sand and grab their towels.| Surfers rush to the shore,| carrying their boards under their arms.| Under the showers they strip off their wetsuits.
“Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?”| cry the gulls.| “What will Yusuf’s father bring from the ocean?”
A Fish and a Gift
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Yusuf’s father and uncle and cousins heave and pull.
A little shark has been caught.| It twists and thrashes in the waves.
Yusuf’s father untangles the nets,| singing to the shark:| “Drop and swish.| Find a fish.| Pull and plop.| Don’t you stop.”
When the shark at last is free it streaks back into the waves,| leaving only one fat yellowtail in the net.
Ouma Safiya will be pleased.
A Fish and a Gift
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The men pull the boat in and coil up the cables.| A hard white triangle catches Papa’s finger.
“Whaaat? Whaaat? Whaaat?”| cry the gulls.| “What did you bring back for Yusuf?”
As the sun goes down,| Papa answers the gulls.| “A lucky shark tooth for my boy.”
At home Yusuf holds his gift up to the stars.
A Fish and a Gift
page #
A Fish and a Gift
Writer: Liesl Jobson
Illustration: Jesse Breeytenbach
© Liesl Jobson, Jesse Breytenbach,
Andy Thesen and bookdash.org, 2014
Audio: Hyeon Shaw
VT Software: AJR, NJA, TLG
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution
(CC-BY) Version 3.0 Unported Licence
Disclaimer: You are free to download, copy, translate
or adapt this story and use the illustrations as long as
you attribute or credit the original creators.