Yoko

OSWALDO RODRIGUEZ

When I first met Yoko, I was astonished. My eyes opened wide, seeing this huge marvelous ship. I had never seen anything like that before.
I was waiting to see the captain to ask for a job. I expected to meet a tall man with a muscular body, but instead I saw a skinny little man with no hair. He asked me a few questions, and finally he said, “Okay, you can work here.”
I didn’t know anything about fishing on a Japanese ship. When the ship started to move, I saw the workers running and yelling at each other. There were other Ecuadorian workers on the ship. A little man ran into me and said, “Hey, my friend, watching, watching and learning fast, fast.”

I had never seen people so well-organized and powerfuL Around me was only water, as everything else disappeared.
Everyone else had a roommate, but I had nobody. I was lying down on

my bed, looking at the big moon through my little window, when suddenly somebody knocked at the door. It was the little man who said that I had to go eat.

In the kitchen there was a big table and all the people were sitting around talking and laughing. The food was raw fish, mayonnaise and soy sauce. I was watching how they ate with those small sticks, even the Ecuadorians. I said, “]’m not going to eat
that food.”
I went back to my room. At two o’clock in the morning a thunderous sound woke me up. I thought something bad had happened on the ship. I saw everybody running and they said, “It is time to work.”

I had to work with two Ecuadorians, Vincente and Leon. They took me to the back of the ship, and we had to start throwing bait into the sea. I liked to work with them because they taught me everything about
fishing. At first, we threw more than 500 pieces of bait in four hours.

When I went to the kitchen, I saw the same food as before and Leon said, “You have to eat something because more hard days are ahead.”
Later on, everybody had to be in the front of the ship to pull in the fishing hooks. It was very dangerous because we had to catch the fishing lines before they passed through the engine.
The first day the fishing was very poor. Captain Yamamoto said, “It is just the first day.”  The next day the same terrible sound woke me up again, and the food was still one of my problems. Yamamoto came to my cabin, and he was very angry.

Yelling at me, he said, “You have to eat something!” So the following day I tried the raw fish, and it was not bad with mayonnaise.

We did the same fishing routine every day. Soon we became successful and Yamamoto and the other Japanese were very happy. The ship had a very huge freezer to keep the fish from spoiling. After work, I liked to walk aronnd the ship. I enjoyed it when a huge black veil covered the sea. No less fantastic was the jumping of the fish, playing with the moonlight, like sprinkles in the air.
Finally, the food was changed. The chef made rice, chicken and sometimes clam soup. I was comfortable with that, and I learned how to use the small sticks.
One day we circled the Galapagos Islands. It was incredible, and I felt really blessed to be on Yoko. Everything was perfect, an adventure, until the most terrible thing happened.

Blood was everywhere on Yoko. It was sharks’ blood, and I couldn’t believe the way they killed the sea life. For a minute I thought it was a bad dream, but when the blood covered me, I realized that I was awake.
I could see their eyes pleading not to be killed,
However, they didn’t listen to them,
They didn’t see their tears,
They didn’t feel their pain.
I saw the sea like an enormous grave,
I saw the sea covered in red,
My heart was in pain.

I could see how they enjoyed killing the sharks. I saw that for them, everything that happened on Yoko was normal, but not for me.  I didn’t realize that I had been three months on the ship, but one day Captain
Yamamoto came to my cabin and told me that we would be back home in two days. I was very happy to hear that, but at the same time, nostalgic. Very soon I would have to say goodbye to Yoko, and let go of all the secrets that I know.

Nowadays, when I watch the ocean,
I still remember the blood,
I still remember the tears,
I still hear the crying of the sharks.
Oswaldo Rodriguez studied literature at the Universidad Tecnica de
Machala in Ecuador. He now studies English at the Consortium for
Worker Education in the Workers United Education Program, where
Sherry Kane is the program director. l want to say thanks to CWE for
giving me the opportunity to improve my English, and to my teacher,
Jackie Bain, for believing in me.” He says, “When I write, everything
around me stops.”

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