What Pegman Saw: What For?

Balbulol Dive Resort, Indonesia | Lera 76, Google Maps

Mr. Vanadel called my papa lazy, and it was true he was no fisher anymore. Instead he sat on our slant porch carving rosewood into asmat. When Mr. Vanadel said he should take them down to shore to sell them to the tourists, Papa just said, “What for?”

It was the same thing with everything. Him, so many times going out to sea, putting gas in the boat, then fourteen-hour days, earning pennies on the pound. He’d come back poorer than when he left. And if the rains fell, or the tides turned swell, or the winds blew in from the south, no man among us could break even. Which to me is why he said it, why I heard it more and more, and why I got to wondering if it made any difference if I finished school. Because the thing I had to ask myself, was: What for?

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

This seemed like such an idyllic place when I picked it, but I didn’t read far before I learned about the wrenching poverty suffered by most of the population. To learn more: Behind the beauty of Indonesia’s Raja Ampat islands lie poverty and neglect

20 Comments

  1. Ah, the learned helplessness of repeat adversity … the lose-lose of the downtrodden and ill-used, by fate and circumstances but mostly by other man.
    I hope he finds a spark to light under his soul, whatever schools of school-of-life is available to him around.
    Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Na’ama. I loved what you said about ‘the learned helplessness of repeat adversity’. Very well put. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What for? Maybe it’s just pasion 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe. Thanks for reading and commenting Kimxuannnn!

      Like

  3. Such a feeling of despair – and I read it twice
    And liked the voice you used – could imagine the character sitting with a certain outfit on…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Prior! It’s great to ‘see’ you. I hope you’ll considering sharing your own story this week or then next.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your hospitality !! And I am
        Truly missing flash fiction writing – especially the pegman prompts – and plan to be join back after my June- and maybe July blog pause – so thanks for extending the invite ☀️
        And wishing you a nice week ahead

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story, in a different way, captures exactly what I thought when I first looked at the photos. A paradise for the rich is, inevitably, a sweaty workhouse for the poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, it is often the case, though I wished it wasn’t with this lovely spot. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You bring out sympathy for these characters (and the real life people they represent) very well. Indeed, if working so hard gets you farther behind every day, what for? If paying all that money to go to school won’t actually improve your life chances, what for? Another tragic story of the rich bringing modern problems to another culture, but not providing the modern solutions, and the locals are the ones who pay the price.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So well said Joy. It seems often happens in these paradises we find. Thanks for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve written a very hard-hitting story, Karen, and after reading the link you provided (thank you for that!) your approach is fully justified. I wonder what that young man’s fate will be? Frustration and poverty are only a step away from violence. Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent point, Penny. I like to believe better will come, but seems like we humans are good and setting up the same problems over and over again. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a sorry state these beautiful islands are in, Karen, yet you masterfully make the human connection. There is such a well of feeling in your words as you reach out through your character. Brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kelvin, thanks for your most generous assessment. I’m glad it worked for you! I was really moved when I learned of the plight of the fisherman in the region.

      Like

  8. Thank you for including the link here, Karen. I’m often cautious about falling for the paradise on earth image of many of these exotic holiday locations – if some wealthy westerner is having a good time, there’ll always be dozens of poorly paid local people working very hard behind the scenes to make it happen. You imbue the story with such hopelessness, such tragedy, the character’s lives could be played out in some neglected inner city rather than such a beautiful place.
    Well written, though very sad

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lynn. Thanks also for taking the time to read the link. I found it really worthwhile and I’m glad it moved you too.

      Like

  9. peterkirsch

    Conveying the multi-generational nature of this social epidemic in so few words…just masterful.
    I feel–and worry–for them both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter, you are too kind. But thanks for reading! I sure hope I can convince you to share a story with us here on Pegman one of these weeks.

      Like

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