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  • If you're at sea, listen. Wherever you are it always says the same thing after a sweeping breath: "Where do you stand?"

    I stayed with my dad every other weekend. This meant following him in his many pursuits. He left little spare time unoccupied: growing, fermenting, foraging, cooking, making. His Edinburgh flat was dominated by plants. Many more books in broad categories of food, philosophy, language and spirituality towered in room height stacks. Then his translation work spilled chaotically, bursting its banks over his large desk. Radio 3 filled the rest of the air. His only rest was found in dredged glasses of red, head in hands, ruby stained poetry on the lips. I mostly played his deck of cards, not being actively interested. And yet I am now. I just needed some incubation.

    And off the Firth of Forth, he fished. I sat small and self contained, as wind blattered shards of icy rain at my red kagoul. I so wanted to get back to the old green Datsun, the ashtray running over with pistachio shells. The black plastic dashboard thick with dust. I would have felt impervious to the spiteful rain, gloating even. But Dad in his yellow slicker stood out waiting for a bite. "Just hang on," he said to the sea.

    And another day, we went back. Nothing going on there. Why do we keep coming back here? He caught a black crab, size of my aching, wind-bitten red hand, and landed it. At once the crab clack crackled towards me with slick limbs. I instinctively ran away but the crab seemed so intent, so restless. "Wait, Binti," Dad said, "just see what he does." I stopped and caught a passing breath as strands of hair whicked out from my drawstrung hood. The crab slowed, came over and rested between my feet. The texture of my black welly boots matched his slick shell and he sat content for minute, before we hustled him back to the sea.

    Dad caught a couple more fish, small ones. I asked if we could keep them as pets. They didn't make it alive to the flat, so Dad fried them and ate them. I watched him bite in. Their salty freshness I have to say smelled good but still, I politely declined and reached for the cards.
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