Holes in the net

Against the backdrop of financial turmoil and attacks on migrants on the Greek mainland there is still work to be found on the Greek island of Santorini. But it is the hardest kind. Stood next to quay number E26, three migrant Bangladeshi fisherman, Amil, Smmepu and Lalmia are holes in the net of the Greek migrant story. Tending to the never ending piles of discarded fishing nets on the quayside of Vlichada, they toil under the Santorini sunshine. They have quietly passed unnoticed through the net of nationalism  engulfing the Greek mainland.

As Amil strips the nets free of boat line, Smmepu patches their holes as Lalmia pulls the completed nets onto his boss’s remaining fishing boat. It’s a cyclical, monotonous routine. Everyday it is the same and everyday it is done by hand. The tools are basic and crude but the men have smiles on their faces. Sometimes their work can stretch out into the night as the red sun dips beyond the horizon. Sat on a stool, lit by a single nocturnal arc lamp it can look like an ungrateful task. However compared to the life of other immigrants on the Greek mainland, it could be far worse.

Everything here is done at it own pace and scale. Talking to the boat’s owner, who surveys the work from his perch on a nearby bench, he explains. “Once I had twelve boats. Now I have one boat. I am old. I just need one boat now. One boat is enough.” Does he still fish himself? A warm smile slowly splits his face, eyes creasing into folds that have protected him from the hot, sapping sunshine. Looking at Amil, Smmepu and Lalmia on the key side, he waves at them. “Good boys. I have good boys now.”

Amil, Smmepu and Lalmia have good a boss now. And a good home. There’s much to be grateful for.

Mark Esper
September 2012

Status: Unpublished
Prints: Selected Prints are available for online purchase.
Image Licensing: Mark Esper. All Rights Reserved.

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