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Fisherman and His Ghost

Talking at de_nugis writing thread made me thinking of all the stories that I grew up listening to/reading. I am particularly fond of this one.

Once upon a time, there was a fisherman, who fished at night. Before he threw his net into the river, he always poured a drink in the water and said "May the soul who drowned enjoy the drink." Because according to rules, drowned soul would be trapped to the river and not returning to the cycle of life, until another soul took its place, that was, until another drowned. After a while, a young guy in white showed up around his fishing boat. So the fisherman invited him on the boat, 'cause he wanted the company, and a drinking buddy. Turned out the young guy in white was pretty knowledgeable and easy to talk to; and they became friends pretty fast, and they drank on the boat mostly every night. One night, when the fisherman pulled his net up, he sighed "Not many fishes tonight." Young guy in white said: "Hold on." and jumped into the river clothes and all.

Before the fisherman could close his mouth, he felt fishes getting caught in his net. So he pulled it up, and it was a good harvest. When the young guy jumped on the boat again, the fisherman asked him the sensible questions as to exactly what is he? The young guy in white admitted that he was actually the drowned soul in the river, and he was drowned after one night of hard drinking and accidentally falling into the river. The fisherman was stunned, then he figured, very practically, that they've been drinking together for a while now, and he caught as much fishes as he did because the young guy in white drove the fishes into his net, it didn't look like the ghost meant him harm, so there was no reason to stop being friend with the guy just because he was a ghost. Thus they continued to drink together and talk the night away.

Then one night, the ghost showed up a little sad, and told the fisherman that this would be their last night together, 'cause there would be a substitute soul tomorrow. The fisherman was sad but happy for his friend too, because he could finally get on with the getting inline to get re-birthed thing. So, the next day, when he saw a pregnant woman fell into the water and struggled, he refrained from getting over there to help. But, after a few minutes, the woman managed to pull herself up on the shore, and walked away. The fisherman was relieved, and puzzled as hell.

The night as soon as the ghost showed up, the fisherman asked him. The ghost explained that if the woman drowned, the baby inside her would drown with her. He couldn't bear to let it happen so he helped the woman out. The he said to the fisherman, "Looks like I am going to hang out with you a bit longer." And they were happy.

A few months later, the ghost showed up and told the fisherman this was really farewell. The fisherman asked him if there would be a new substitute? The ghost said not that, but his action of kindness was noted by heaven, and heaven picked him to be the local land god of a county a while away. Thus the last night of drinking together was bittersweet for the both of them.

Another few months later, the fisherman dreamed of the ghost, who was clothed a lot better than when he was a ghost. Apparently, local god got paid in the form of gifts from his local people. The ghost invited the fisherman to visit him at his new home, sort of. So the fisherman packed and went. As soon as he crossed the county line, he was recognized by the local people to be the guest of their land god. He was invited to everyone's home, and feast was hosted in his honor. This went on for a fortnight or so, and fisherman had to go home.

The day he bid goodbye to the village and county people, they gave him much farewell gifts. When he started on the road, there was a small twister following him out. He knew that twister was his ghost friend, and talked to it along the way. A mile or so out, the fisherman got off his horse, or mule or donkey, and said to the twister that "I wish I could stay longer, but I got my family and you got all this people to take care of. I know you are kind of heart so I am sure you will be a great land god to them. We will always be friends, and you be good."

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