A Narrow Life

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

He was born in a tiny room that faced the canal.  He grew up with the smell of the rancid water as a normal part of his life. No one ever went swimming in the canal, or dipped a cup into the oil-scummed surface to take a drink. It was for transport, nothing else. Everything got dumped into the canal–sewage, food garbage, dead pets, and the occasional human body.

He was helping on a canal boat by the time he was three. It was his whole life. His wife and children would do the same.

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54 thoughts on “A Narrow Life

  1. Well done, Linda. You’ve captured that sense where people are born into a place in society and it’s where they belong in a way which isn’t negative or stifling and as I said, I think there’s contentment there. A sense that he is content going with the flow and has no need to conquer the world. He is happy where he is.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting you should say that about coal miners. My grandfather was a coal miner in South Wales just after WW1. He was very proud of the job, because it affirmed his masculinity and gave him a respected role in his society.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. A narrow life to be sure. You conjure up the inevitability very well, Linda. And I guess it’s that inevitability that sticks in the craw. He may have been happy, but if he wasn’t happy there was precious little he could do to change things.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jelli

    An interesting scene you paint for us this week. Does the canal imprison him, or does it give him life…an interesting perspective and something to think about in one. Really enjoyed reading this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes there’s comfort in knowing you will do what your father did and his father and his. Caring on a life of expectation and supporting your wife (although this wife seems to be working overtime what with kids and a house to run). There’s a rhythmic peace in your story. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve taken a fascinating angle on this. We grow up accepting our conditions as normal and satisfactory, even if that does mean living amongst sewage and pollution. It’s hard to clean the place up if you’re changing people’s heritage

    Liked by 1 person

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