He decided to place his catch in a water basin, making sure to keep it alive. At first, he had considered throwing it back into the ocean, but he thought that his family might get a kick out of the weird fish their dad brought home.
Once everything was set, he knew that it was time to get back into his car and return home. But he had no idea what he was bringing home.
The world is a beautiful place with so much for us to discover. Among its attractive features are oceans, those great bodies of water that link the seven continents that we live on.
The ocean is vast, so vast that humanity has only explored twenty percent of it. But this small percentage has yielded such wonders that have left many stumped over the years.
Among the latest craze surfacing from these majestic water bodies is a rare creature that has taken the world by storm. Many people are risking their lives to search out and catch these creatures, and some are even making millions while at it.
The protagonist of this story didn’t know what he’d caught until the authorities came rushing to his door. But by then, it was too late.
Muhammad Sahid Ali was your average fisherman off the coast of Morocco. He didn’t have a lot going on for him and was known only to do one thing: fish.
Although Ali had been fishing for more than a year, he wasn’t the best. He wasn’t financially well off either, given that he depended solely on his daily catch on the ocean. But this would soon change.
Before becoming a fisherman, Ali had been working in a toothpaste factory. But he lost his job after the management announced they’d be automating most of their processes.
Without a way to feed his family, Ali ventured into the only thing he could at the time: diving into the ocean to snare any fish that could fetch a price at the market.
The week that everything happened was a tough one for Ali. His family hadn’t eaten for a day, and his kids were out of school because of fees.
Ali woke up early each day of that week and hurried to the ocean to fish. But what he’d catch would cause such a buzz that his life would never be the same.
It was early morning when Ali made his great catch. His haul was a hefty one, and he knew his family would eat all the fish they wanted that day.
But as he emptied his haul onto his boat, he noticed something that made his brows furrow. He stepped back, unsure if what he was looking at was supposed to be among his catch.
The creature in question was large and sausage-shaped. It looked like one of those massive hot dogs his sons loved eating on market day but bigger. Measuring it against his arm, it reached his elbow from his wrist.
The creature, whatever it was, was also pinkish, with many spike-like protrusions all over its body. It wiggled helplessly as Ali neared.
Ali transferred his catch to a water basin to keep everything alive. He thought about setting the odd creature back into the ocean but knew his family would get a kick out of the weird fish their dad brought home.
With everything set, he turned on his motor and hurried back home. He had no idea what he was bringing to his house.
Ali’s wife screamed and jumped back when she saw the creature. But the boys laughed as they gathered around it, their faces drawn into the warmest smiles. Ali’s lips curled as he watched them study the creature.
With everything he’d brought back that morning, he’d be able to cover part of their tuition fees for that semester. If only he knew that the price of the odd creature could easily sort out a lifetime of tuition.
The day went on well for Ali, who, after breakfast, hurried off to sell his catch at the market. But before going there, he made a detour to the ocean to return the creature to the water.
He’d thought about selling it with the rest of his fish but seeing as to how ugly his wife found it to be, he decided against it. Since it was still alive, Ali would set it free. If only he knew what he had in his hands.
He let the creature go, releasing it back into the blue ocean. The sun was burning above him as he got into his truck and drove to the market.
He had no clue that his kids and wife had told their neighbors about what he’d brought home and that the authorities were searching for him.
Ali sold all his fish and went straight to the bank to clear his kids’ tuition fee as planned. He also bought some provisions for the house and a gift for his wife with some of the remaining money.
But as he was returning home, he got stopped by the authorities, who asked about the creature’s whereabouts.
“They wanted to know if I sold it,” Ali shared. “They handed me some forms and told me what I had caught. I couldn’t believe it.”
It turns out Ali had caught a rare sea cucumber, which went for more than sixteen thousand dollars in the Asian fish market. But why were the police looking for him because of a mere water creature?
Due to how valuable sea cucumbers are, they’ve become endangered as many people are searching for them. A kilo of regular sea cucumbers can cost upwards of three thousand dollars, while the rarer, more weird-looking kind like the one Ali caught are more expensive.
Since these creatures are endangered, it’s illegal to fish for them in many countries. If Ali didn’t release the one he caught back into the ocean, he’d be looking at serious jail time.
Muhammid considered all of these things, but there was something he hadn’t. These were serious allegations against him. It wasn’t enough that he had told them he threw it back.
The underground market for these rare creatures is so bad that even just a civilian finding one by accident raises major alarms. And Muhammid had no idea what he had done.
It wouldn’t just be fines that he would face. If Muhammid couldn’t get his story straight with the authorities, he’d be hauled away to jail. Muhammid was only just getting by, selling the fish he hauled every week.
If he had to pay any fines or go to jail, he wouldn’t be able to support his family anymore. There was nothing more important than his family. But would the authorities care?
Muhammid wasn’t entirely sure what kind of consequences he would face, but he knew that he had to defend himself if he wanted to get out of the pickle he was in. But he just had to make sure that he wasn’t overstepping any boundaries.
He asked them what exactly he had to do to convince them that he was innocent of the crime. But he immediately regretted his decision to ask them when they gave him an unsettling answer.
Muhammid immediately regretted asking when the police told him he’d have to go down to the nearest court housewhere where a judge would decide if he was innocent or not. They gave him the summons and walked off.
This made him extremely nervous. He didn’t want to appear guilty in a courtroom, but he definitely wouldn’t feel confident in front of a judge.
After speaking to the authorities, Muhammid arranged to go see them. He didn’t see that he had any other choice in the matter. Now he just had to arrange a date to go down and see them at the nearest courthouse.
The courthouse was far away from where he lived. The nearest one to his coastal town was 20 miles away. The commute was another unnecessary expense.
Muhammid had to plan his next step. He had to talk to his family about his court date since he felt dishonest about keeping anything from them. He just hoped his wife wouldn’t overreact.
He sat her down and explained the situation he was in. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she worried for her husband. He told her it would be alright, but he had no idea how things would end.
Now that he had reassured his wife, he had to make it to the court. He now had to make an arrangement to take a taxi into town. It would be a minor financial blow to him, but he understood that he had to do it.
Muhammid got his things together, arranged the taxi, and went to bed. He felt nervous as he fell asleep. How would things go for him?
Muhammid woke up the next morning feeling just as anxious as he did the previous day. He boiled the kettle, got dressed, and made a cup of coffee and a bowl of cornflakes. He recited his defense in his head over and over again.
He managed to calm his nerves just in time. He heard a honk at his front door. The taxi had arrived, and he would soon be in front of a judge.
Muhammid had a lot of time to think while he was in the taxi. The drive would take 30 minutes to get into town. He didn’t go into the city center often. He preferred the peace and quiet the coast afforded him.
Just as his reflection came to an end, he noticed that the taxi was stopped. He was now in front of the courthouse. His time was up.
Muhammid was now in the busy courthouse. He wasn’t used to huge crowds in his village and felt claustrophobic. He could smell sweat in the air as it rose to the ceiling. The ventilation system definitely wasn’t working correctly.
Muhammid needed an escape. He ran to the bathroom nearby and washed his face with cold water. Then he heard his name being called, and his heart dropped.
Muhammid raced out of the bathroom and followed the man who called his name into the courtroom. He walked into the large room and saw the judge sitting behind his giant desk. He was asked to sit down in front of him and get ready.
The judge asked Muhammid if he knew why he was there. He nodded his head nervously and looked down at the ground. He felt like he had never been in such deep trouble.
Suddenly, the judge smiled at Muhammid and said, “Don’t look so nervous. We just want to find out what the truth is. If you’re innocent, we’ll find that out too.”
Muhammid tried to have a better outlook on the situation. But the next hour that followed would be a long and grueling one.
Over the next hour, Muhammid was grilled for questions pertaining to the sea cucumber. He had to give them a detailed account of the day he found it and had to convince them that he had thrown it back.
After everything was said and done, the judge leaned back and told Muhammid that he had made his mind up about his case. Muhammid’s heart was pounding like an Olympic runner going for gold. What would the verdict be?
The judge stared at Muhammid for what felt like hours before he slowly opened his mouth and said one word that would be a pivotal moment in his life forever. “Innocent,” he said before slamming his gavel down.
Muhammid bowed his head and thanked the judge. He had just saved his family, and his career, with his verdict.
After Muhammid cleared everything up and managed to get home from the town, he hugged his wife and told her the good news. He knew he had learned a valuable lesson.
The next time he was fishing, he would make sure not to let his curiosity get the better of him. He was happy at his second chance to provide for his family, and he would never forget what happened. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.