25 October, 2006
I remember quite vividly when Vic brought home one lone goldfish cos someone in his office had bought fishes and then decided against the idea. And none of the others had survived. There was just this one tiny goldfish that was fighting for its existence.
That day evening, we went to the “pet store” and got a fishbowl, some filter material to keep the water clean and of course, fish food. We did not realise then, how very satisfying this feeling was going to be – to care for and nurture another living being.
A couple of days passed, quite uneventfully I must say (cos fishes are prone to a lot of complications with change in water etc). This little goldfish seemed to have made up its tiny little mind to live and thrive. One more day and we felt that the little goldfish seemed very lonely.
I really don’t know whether it was the fish which was feeling lonely or whether we were so enamored by the lone little fish that we decided to get the fish some “company”.
So that day evening, we again went to the pet store and got another 6 little goldfish.
And very soon, we began to feel that the seven little goldfish were a tad too crowded in the fish bowl. They did not have enough space to move about, we concluded.
And off we went to the store again and this time around, when we got back home, it was with a fully equipped aquarium.
That was how it began ………
Since then, over these past 10 years, we have almost always had an aquarium at home. We kind of feel lost without it. The only periods during the above 10 years when we have not had pet fishes was around the time Appu and Abhay were toddlers. They were at that stage in their lives when just about everything and anything brought about that “wide eyed” look which said “Hey I did not know things like those could exist ?”
And we decided to give not our kids but rather the fishes, a break. We did not want to risk either of our kids thrusting their seeking little hands into the water probably just to get a “feel” of the fishes. Or better still, pull one out and talk to it of play with it.
As parents, we talk a lot about “letting go” when it comes to our kids flying out of the nest. Well, we’ve had 6 batches of fishes “leave the nest”. And we did not, at that time, even imagine exactly how difficult it would be for us to part with them.
For the most part, when the fishes grew too large for the tank and when space began to get restricted, we would let them into one of the ponds which were maintained and run by the Urban Council (a govt extension for the day to day affairs – like keeping the SAR clean, no littering etc). We would watch them as we let them into the large pond where so many more of their kind resided and we would watch them as, with a swish and flick of their tails, they swam away to forge a destiny of their own, by themselves.
Even to date, when I see large goldfish in some of the govt run parks here in HK, I cannot help but think and wonder as to whether any one of those fishes originally had an address the same as ours.
I know, at first say, fishes sound quite plain and boring. “Oh They must be so dreary and monotonous” was what one of my colleagues had once said.
Little did she know how far away from the mark she was.
They are such a lively bunch and most importantly, each one of them has a personality of their own. Some are meek, some are bullies, some are go getters while some are simply content to go with the flow. And there are some pretty adventurous ones as well.
I remember once when Appu was around 3 ½ years old. She was sitting next to the aquarium with her nose pasted on it and suddenly she freaked. Because she saw a fish swimming vertically. Yes – it was indeed !! I was just as taken aback cos in all the years that we had an aquarium, I had, not once, seen a fish that could swim vertically.
And then there was a little goldfish we named James Bond. This was one adventurous fish – so much so that once when I was cleaning the aquarium, this little fishy decided to take a look at the world outside the water. Oh Yes !! It jumped right out of the aquarium. While I was in the kitchen getting water to replace the water in the fish tank, it was Appu who realised that this lone ranger had “gone somewhere” (as she put it then). A frantic search ensued and sure enough we found the frisky little fish under the table, quite literally panting for breath. I was even scared to take it all the way back to the fish tank – just in case it decided to stop breathing. I really did not envision nor was I particularly enamored with the idea of a session of CPR with the fish. So I popped it back into a glass of water first and once it had “caught its breath” we transferred it back to the aquarium.
Even among the little fishies who grace our aquarium now, there is a Bully, a Hitler, a Duster, a Jellybean ...... among many others ......
We’ve had, over the years, a fairly wide range of gold fishes as well. Comets, Commons, Fantails, Pearlscales (we have four right now), Moors (these fishes don’t come in any colour other than black)........
Their very presence brings about a sense of calm and peace. Even when one is terribly upset about something, it really helps to just sit and watch them lazily swirl around in the water, flicking their fins and bobbing their mouths open and shut.
Fishes epitomize tranquility, harmony and serenity.
And these are qualities which, when caught up in the tension-ridden, anxious and stressful lives of the present day, could very well be considered a very rich bequest.
An enticement towards quietude and peacefulness.