Wails of hunger: 99 Word Flash Fiction



© irene waters 2015

Paremesawa, his chest swollen with love, watched his wife feed his daughter, Ratna.  He looked around the dirt floor of his thatched hut, sad that her future would be the same as his. 

“Wah, wah!” Ratna’s quivering hungry cry moved Paremesawa. They had little food, even his wife’s milk was decreasing. He had no choice. Their village, upstream on the river’s edge was hidden in the constellation of islands and reefs, which dotted the Malacca Straits. 

Their long knives held ready, assault rifles loaded, the pirates boarded the oil tanker, killing the crew. Paremsawa smiled, Ratna wouldn’t go hungry. 

In 2005 Lloyds Insurance Agency of London declared the Malacca Straits as a war zone. With over 70,000 ships per year (approx 1/3rd of the world’s commercial shipping), not to mention smaller craft including fishing vessels and sailing boats) pass through the Malacca Strait. The pickings are high. Recently with increased vigilance between a number of governments the Malacca Straits has been downgraded as piracy has increased off Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

Bo Jiang from the University of Maryland has done an interesting study titled Maritime Piracy in Malacca Strait and South China Sea: Testing the deterrence and reactance models. The full paper can be found here. He writes: “The results also reveal the presence of strain/anomie effects at work in piracy when higher Misery Index leads to greater hazard of being attack and more successful attacks. With the lack of legal employment opportunities and widespread poverty in some communities escalating especially in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, illegal activities are an alternative way to earn a living. As fish stock depletes in the region, some of the more desperate fishers turn to piracy as a source of income in a time of need, while more opportunistic fishers may use it to 27 earn extra cash or to supplement low catches. Unemployed and desperate fishers are also, in some cases, recruited by organized crime gangs to attack or hijack merchant vessels or tugs. For jobless and impoverished fishers, “employment” as a pirate by an organized gang may, therefore, be one of the few options left to earn an income.”

Although it doesn’t make it right, there are always two sides to every story. Knowing those sides should allow the problem to be dealt with in an effective way.

In response to Charli’s prompt:

December 2, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a pirate story. It can be about pirates or piracy; modern or of yore. Swashbuckling, parrots and rum can be involved or maybe you’ll invent details beyond standard pirates.

Respond by December 8, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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19 Responses to Wails of hunger: 99 Word Flash Fiction

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Terrific flash and incredible back story. Some think only evil people turn to evil deeds, but we forget about the role of desperation and sometimes an evil deed is actually committed out of love (like not wanting to a wife and child starve). Not only does employment bring income and a living, but it often gives purpose and a sense of self-worth.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Norah says:

    You have painted a serious picture of the reality of pirates. I took the frivolous storybook path. I remember being surprised when i realised that pirates were real and not just fantasy figures from storybooks. I like the way you have told the story with compassion, bringing humanity to deeds which, to the onlooker, appear unjustifiable. It’s a great flash and providing the supporting information makes its message all the more powerful. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ChristineR says:

    I learned a bit about these pirates on a Simon Reeve documentary. As you said, desperation or coercion are the usual triggers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Good job, Irene. There are always too sides to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Pirates on the Horizon « Carrot Ranch Communications

  6. A tragic dilemma but the pirate solution, especially when in real life they sometimes murder those they attack, is not justice of any kind. We need a world wide response and I doubt that’s forthcoming.

    Liked by 1 person

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