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The Salmon Run: A story of Love and Promise

Seamalgo was the quaint old village I was born in. The people I have lived with are as simple as a log of wood – crude and honest. We have lived here through centuries, almost isolated from rest of the world by Mother Nature. We don’t care what happens beyond the forest and hills. Each year, some young men would cross the hills. And what happened to them, nobody knew. There were times when an old man would happen to come wandering like a mad-man to our village. And when he would introduce himself, the old-men of the village would recognize him as an old acquaintance who had gone on an adventure when he was young. The last of their days, they would spend merrily in the village with old folks and then when they died, they were happy. Well, their death look was a happy one.
As a kid, I was curious. I wondered what existed beyond the hills. The dark forest was dangerous. But I had the intense desire to see beyond my vision. My imaginations ran wild, as I dreamt of the world beyond my sight. My granddad would tell me stories. And of the stories, that were about the world beyond, all ended tragically with the adventurer being eaten up by some demons or monsters that lived far away. There were kids who were frightened of adventure, but on the other hand there were kids like me, who after listening to stories were determined to seek adventure.
Emily was the girl next door to me. Her dad was a yeoman and worked as a lumberjack too in his spare hours. Emily and I would sometimes accompany him to the woods. He cut logs and would sail them down the river. We never knew where it went. But we were excited to see it adrift.  We would pin flowers with thorns as a gift to those who would find the logs. Emily and I grew like a pair of doves. We were inseparable from each other during the early part of our childhood. We liked the ice-cold weather of the mountains.
At the end of every summer, there would be salmons migrating upstream in the river close to our village. We had a nice hunt catching the salmons. We would salt it and make a stock to serve us the entire winter. Maybe, we humans are greedy and think of the morrow, but then we have the consciousness of our existence. The salmon tastes awful, but then it serves to keep us alive in the harsh winter, if we run out of supply of hunting bears, foxes, bison and antelopes.
The cold waters of the North would travel down South, into the ocean. The salmon are a breed of fishes that are born in river freshwater, and then migrate to the ocean. In the ocean, they attain their full length and live there for a while. After that they return to their natal place in the freshwater to spawn and die.  Fishes just don’t live. They maintain the ecosystem.  And through the salmons, the sea life is connected with land life. Life flows from the land to the sea and back. 
Emily grew up to be a shy girl, while I was a wild lad always seeking adventure. I had kissed Emily often when we were alone, mostly on her cheeks, and sometimes on her lips as dad had kissed mom. I would tell her, when I grew to be a big man, I would marry her and make her my wife. And then we would have seven children together. Well, those were just the imaginations of a child. As adolescents, we hardly stayed close to each other. I had my own circle of young men and old men. Being in company with a woman was looked down upon, unless she was your wife; unlike married men who were encouraged to spend more time with their wives.
All these changed when I decided to travel out of my village. One fine morning when I was eighteen I set off in my shoes to begin the story of my adventure. I crossed the dark forest. I had to find my own place in the wide world. My dad gave me strict orders to return back within seven years’ time. I travelled into the open plain lands. I met different people, and smiled at the old stories I had heard about the distant world in my village. I lived a vagabond’s life, travelling place to place and saw the world in different colours. There were people who had different customs, but the underlying basic structure of life and its propagation was similar. Must have been created by a single Hand!
The world was different and I learnt the amazing ways of the world. Well, there were more women I had ever met in my life. I felt an itch in my heart whenever I saw beauty in condensed form! With a young heart and warm blood in my veins, my feelings churned for the people around me. One evening as I walked on the fields, I saw a young woman walking on the gravel path. Her austerity haunted me, and drew me towards her. I could but utter in my mind –  
There’s no life for me,
There’s no joy for me,
There’s nothing in my mind for me,
But you and I. And I and you.
I decided to stay in the village, and see what fate had in store for me. I took myself into the services of the village pastor. It would be easy to switch jobs once I was acknowledged for my good nature and skills. And I could find out more about the girl I saw.
She turned out to be the daughter of the village headman. It was not strange that I went on to like the company of Eva, when she came to the pastor for music lessons. I would intently listen to her playing quickly on the piano.
She was like a wild free goose. I loved her rough nature, the crude animal instincts in her. She would argue with her father on important aspects of science, philosophy and literature. She had immense knowledge of the books around her. I adored her – her fine skills to read and write.
I decided to stay with her. My innocent and simple nature somehow attracted her. We spent a lot of our time together. She would wander with me in the fields and tell me the names of the trees. Well, her father approved her being with me. It was not easy. I had saved her from a wolf, when she was out alone rambling in the forest. I had been taught to hunt, and it was quite easy defending her from a lone wolf. Her father was impressed, and acknowledged me more as her bodyguard. She enjoyed my company, for it was only me, who would intently listen to whatever she said. Her father loved her a lot as he could see the reflection of his lost wife in her, and fulfilled all her whims. Her mother had died during her birth.
One moon-lit night, as we went out on a stroll, we saw a doe and stag copulating. She went red, and I looked longingly into her eyes. She understood. We made love, under the silver birch tree in the open air.
Next day, I packed my bags. I had to go and tell my parents, I had chosen my partner. Eva was quite sad at my departure. She cried and begged me not to go. “Don’t worry,” said I. “My parents will come to ask your dad for your hand.”
When I reached my village, I found my parents had grown old. They needed my care. My father asked me to visit Emily’s family. Emily had grown into a beautiful lady. My sentiments for her however, had changed. We talked of the old days- how we had grown together.
“Well, I waited for you all these years.” She said. I was taken aback. I could see the feelings and affection she had for me. They had stayed with her all these years, even though I had forgotten my promise of marrying her and pushed it aside considering it to be a childish act.
I knew why my father had sent me to meet Emily; I wanted to run away. I wrote a letter to my father explaining my situation with Eva. I planned to keep the letter under his pillow and leave in the night. My father sensed something was wrong with me. And wise he was, he took me up the mountains in the evening, where the salmons bred.
“Son, you see. These are the salmons that come to breed here each year in the autumn. They are born here and grow in the mountain. Then they go to the sea. They grow there, and see the life nature created.
Well, I will tell you an interesting tale. Once, I lost my ring in the sea. A salmon gulped it. When I was salmon hunting during the spawning period, I got back my lost ring. It only strengthened my belief in the legend that has been passed down to us from generations.
“There’s a very old tale. Long ago, when there was famine; the river had dried with small puddle of water scattered in its course. Our ancestor the great Majordt decided to offer a prayer to the river god. Everyone had left the mountain for better places. As he walked up the dried stream, he saw a salmon stuck between the rocks in a small pool of water. Majordt had the choice to catch the salmon and eat it, hungry as he was. But, he decided to free the salmon and put it in deeper water. He then went up the river course where the mouth of the river was, and prayed to the river god. Tired he was, he slept. There he had a dream. The river god appeared and said, I was the salmon. You have been kind and merciful. Your tribe will prosper. Majordt woke up with a start, at the sound of thunder. Grim clouds had gathered over the mountain. Soon it rained, and the river was filled with water. And then the most amazing thing happened. There were shoals of salmons coming upstream. The river was alive again, and ever since during fall, salmons return back to the place they were born, as promised by the river God. We are the descendant of the great Majordt.
“This is how nature has created everything here. We return to our origin. The salmons will breed and die in the land they were born. They travel all the way from ocean crossing steep waterfall, going against the current all the while. Is it, so much labour just to spawn and die? On the way, several of them are hunted by bears and wolves. And the whole mountain depends on these salmons. We are linked to these salmons. Our forefathers were born here and died here. It depends on you my son, to carry out the Salmons’ legacy.”   
We have a choice in life. To keep our promises. To keep our legacy. I thought of Emily and Eva. I had the burden of my promise and the burden of my ancestors’ promise. It’s strange how the salmons travel all the wide world only to return, spawn and die in the place they were born and become one with nature!

The Salmon Run: A story of Love and Promise Reviewed by Polymath on 9:32 pm Rating: 5


  1. so, what did he decide?
    whom did he choose?
    eva or emily?

  2. The heart knows best. You guess, what he must have chosen, Eva or Emily.

    1. I think, he would have chosen Emily.
      But he should have chosen Eva, as whatever happened between them.

  3. What, if he chose both and kept them apart?


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