Artwork by Rohini Amratlal, section from Stained Memories, 2021 (Found objects and Watercolours on Fabriano )
One of the most painful hazards of fishing is getting hooked – not just to the sport but by the actual fish hook. Anytime you go fishing there is a chance of getting yourself hooked. It is just inherent in the sport. The only way to get help is to have a first aid kit in hand or someone trained in first aid, or both.
As luck would have it, 60-year-old JP is a fisher who is also trained in first aid. He has seen his fair share of hooks getting snagged on fingers which is why he always makes sure to have his first aid kit with him whenever he goes fishing. Once he had to assist a fisherman who had a big hook go through his eyelid, scraped his eyeball and came out the other side of his eyelid. JP took out his first aid kit, removed the hook, and put on gauze with a little plaster and sent him to the nearby Hospital down the South Coast.
When JP met him a week later, back fishing, he narrated how he went to the doctor’s rooms and the doctor asked him what happened and he said: “I got hooked.” The doctor removed the gauze and plaster and was surprised that the hook was no longer on his eyelid. The fisher told the doctor how JP had removed it, and the doctor marvelled at JP’s skill in treating the wound.
JP was not always a fisherman adept in first aid. He too started off as a six-year-old bait boy and developed his skill from his father and his siblings (seven brothers and two sisters) as the second youngest of a family of nine children. JP still remembers his father’s famous words: “like so, like so” when he was teaching him how to tie traces and hook the bait. He was his father’s assistant and would take the bait, the sardine fillet it and cut it in small pieces, and keep them ready for his dad and his fishing companion.
Apart from the fishing duties, as a youngster JP enjoyed being at the beach, exploring and having fun. He started off catching little fish, but now he is a game fisher and uses a big fish like about thirty centimetres to catch a bigger fish which is almost about eighteen to twenty kilos.
It’s a thrill for him because he does it from the rocks and simulates what deep sea ski boat fishers do. “I’ve really developed my skills learning from our ancestors that imparted that knowledge on to us, and it really gives me the excitement that I’ve acquired all these skills to be where I am,” muses JP.