The Boy with the Basket

Boy_on_Boat,_Ganges_&_Jalangi_River_conjunction,_MayapurAsher lay flat in his reed boat. With his tired arms folded behind his head, he floated aimlessly on the lake. Looking up into the scorching sky, he imagined his boat was bulging with a hundred flipping fish. As he lay still beside his fish spear, two small silver tilapia fish flapped at his feet. The salty air hovered above him and although the sun was hidden behind a sheet of white sky, it was the hottest point of the day as he dreamt of fresh water.
He leaned his tiny body up, to hear the rolling words of Abba ripple along the hot sea all the way to the Jordon. Asher’s father was never to be ignored, although he looked the size of an ant across the lake of Galilee, he was not. In full view, Abba was the burliest man in Bathseida, and everyone knew it. Abba knew it. He was as wide as a giant and he was the most fearsome fisherman in the land.
Asher could feel his angry eyes burn him, as he paddled in a sweat to the shore. He hadn’t managed to use his hoop net that day, he could never get the knack of it, but his two small fish would hopefully keep him from a beating.
“Could I see you sleeping Asher?”
“No Abba, I was holding the fish down, look I caught two.”
Abba’s face showed no emotion as he glanced at the two scrawny fish.
“Go to the village and tell your mother to cook the fish and make more bread. My men are coming to feast when the day is done.” Abba said, as he clipped Asher over the head with his boulder of a hand; Asher bit his tongue and his eyes watered as he held a dead fish in each hand with a rusty hook.
The walk to Bathseida from the Lake was steep and the sun pounded his head like the hand of Abba. Asher’s eyes were big and dark and full of pain. Abba was a greedy man, his belly was always as full as a fish net, and he was cruel.
Asher wished to God that his Abba would say, “good catch.” He wished he was like his older brothers Aryeh and Abner. They were big like Abba and could catch a net of fish just like him too.
Asher walked slowly up to the village with his two-small fish. Crowds of wild-eyed people stared at his tiny hands with hungry bellies. Asher held his fish close and weaved between the sycamores and clusters of pistachio trees that bore no fruit. He wondered why there were so many people heading north today.
Then he heard them talk of the Nazarene and his magic tricks. Abba said to stay away from him- he was a devilish man who had cast a spell on his finest fishermen. Shimon and Andreus left their nets behind to follow him, and Abba had lost two of his best men to a mad man.
Asher reached home and went straight to the kitchen. The smell of baked bread filled the hot air and made his tummy howl. Imma looked up from her kneading table with her big, dusky eyes and her smile, that made Asher feel warm inside. She was the one that took his pain. Her eyes shone like black jewels as she looked at her youngest wilting in the doorway with his small fish.
“Good catch, Asher. Take some bread.”
Asher tore a big hunk of warm bread from the table and ate like a beast. He then drank a big cup of cool water and felt his frame lift with life again.
“Abba said to cook all the fish and make more bread. The men are coming.”
Imma’s eyes flickered in fear as she hung the fish over the cooking pot. She knew the night would be filled with wine and greedy men. Her heart twisted like a rag as she looked at the famished people heading up the high hill.
“I’m running out of oil.” Imma said as she began to bake more bread and wipe her brow. Asher curled up like a ball in the window and watched the crowds climb the hill.
“Is the Nazarene a devil, like Abba says?”
“No Ash, he casts the devils out.” Imma said as she took the two fish hanging over the fire pot and placed them in a basket with five loaves of bread.
“Go Asher, follow them and take this, feed your brothers if you see them on your way.”
“But what about Abba- he wants the fish and bread for the men?”
“I have more dried fish, don’t worry about Abba. Just go and follow the Nazarene. Try and get close to him and see for yourself.” Imma said in the darkness of the kitchen.
Asher left with his basket, clutched tightly to his chest. He knew it could be snatched by a skinny child if he was not watchful- they were hungrier than him. His tummy twisted when he thought of Imma. Abba would be home soon and there wasn’t enough bread.
The sun was low in the sky. Still hot, but not as baking as it was. The Nazarene was sat upon the hill as people gathered in large groups around him. Asher had never seen such a big crowd before. Even at the Synagogue, he had never seen as many as this.
The women and the children huddled on the grass, and the men flocked together in deep discussions, some said he was the Messiah, others said he was a hoax, and some called out to the magic man for miracles.
Asher got as close as he could, he saw Shimon and Andreus and a few other men speaking with the Nazarene. His name was Yeshua.
Asher leaned into a bush and tried to hide his basket from ravenous eyes. He could hear people uttering, “the boy with the basket…” His brothers were nowhere to be seen. Then, Andreus saw him. His eyes looked down to see his goods and Asher’s heart began to thud.
“You are Abbas’ son, yes? Do you have food in there?”
“Yes, just a bit of fish and bread.”
“The Master needs it.”
Asher’s eyes grew, as Yeshua looked upon him. His eyes were different. Dark like everybody else’s, but it was as though fresh water poured out from them and into Asher’s belly as he filled with warmth and lifted like a wilting flower in the sun.
Asher felt like the Nazarene and his little self were the only ones upon the hill at that very moment, and the thousands of people spread about in groups, might as well have disappeared like dust.
Asher’s heart was like a drum, as Yeshua’s eyes flickered like flames, and then he winked and said,
“Good catch.”
Asher’s mouth fell open like a cave. He stretched out his trembling hand and passed the basket of fish and bread to Andreus. Andreus took the basket to his Master and did not understand what he was about to do.
Yeshua held a loaf of bread up to the sky, he broke it in two and said thank you to his Abba. Then as the sun began to set in crimson stripes, Asher’s two small tilapia fish burst out of the basket, and just like his dream, hundreds of fish spilled out upon the ground and everyone began to stir.
The five small barley loaves of bread began to grow and grow and grow, and by the time the sun had fully sunk behind the sea, fifteen thousand bellies were as full as the moon.
Asher gripped the loop of his empty basket, but as he tried to pick it up, his eyes grew big again as he heaved it from the floor. He had three times the amount as before. Then he looked up to see Yeshua quietly slip away, further up the mountain. Asher weaved his way through the crowds and ran back down the hill, back home to Imma.
Abba’s voice bellowed in the dark. His big hand was raised high to Imma’s cheek. Her eyes shut tightly as she leant against the clay wall in a shudder.
“I got more bread and fish.” Said Asher as Abba put his arm back down and turned to see the silhouette of his tiny son standing in the doorway. Asher held out his basket and Abba snatched it, then he dropped it at Imma’s feet. The fish spilled out across the cool, stone floor, as he stormed away with a jug of wine.
Imma slumped to the dusty ground as Asher ran and hugged her close. He loved the smell of her skin against his face.
“I saw Yeshua- the Nazarene.” he whispered, “and he turned my two small fish and bread into a million.” Asher said with his big eyes looking up at her and blinking.
Imma wept and held him close. He didn’t know why she cried. She had escaped a beating and his news was good.
That night the moon was fat in the sky and the air was cool. Asher lay awake thinking about Yeshsua, and before the sun arose, a strong breeze blew through his window as he sat up quietly and looked out towards the sea. He saw a boat filled with men.
Asher lifted himself out of the window and up onto the roof to get a better look. His heart began to dance when he saw a man in the moonlight, walking on the water by the boat filled with men. The hairs on Asher’s arms stood up on end. He knew that he was not a ghost or a hoax. Deep in his little heart he knew the man could see him all the way up there, sat upon the roof.
It was Yeshua, the man from Nazarene, the one that looked inside his soul today and made his belly warm, the one with eyes like flickering flames, who said, “Good catch.”

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4 thoughts on “The Boy with the Basket

  1. Well sister/daughter you have exeled yourself yet again. It made me cry,and praise the Lord .God bless. Your proud father.Xxxxxx

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