One for Tamasha

At my home we weren’t allowed to have pets, Mum is allergic to fur, so no pets.

Then one day, my brother bought a fish tank. A huge fish tank. For tropical fish. There was a filter and pebbles and seaweed and little treasure chests. And a gloriously large tank that was soon filled with 24 tropical fish. Whenever I could, I’d help Bhai wash out the tank. The best part would be catching the fish and putting them into the smaller tank before we’d haul the large one out into the garage to wash down (taking care not to use anything more than simple washing up liquid and leaving the water in there for a few days before putting the fish back in).

The big day came. Bhai had to go to Canada for a couple of months for work (he’s 14 years older than me) and I was left with the guardianship of the tank. My heart swelled with joy and honour. Each day I would carefully feed the fish (not too much, not too little), check the filter and say hello to the fish. Some nights I would even beg Mum and Bapuji to let me sleep in Bhai’s room so I could listen to the hum of the filter and make sure the fish were all right.

So imagine my shock one day when, aged 10 or 11 years old, I come home to find that the 24 fish had become 21. Two of the rainbow fish had completely disappeared and there was half an angel fish in the tank! There was a very satisfied looking angel fish swimming about, the other fish seemed to be doing their best to avoid him …

I, completely distraught, insisted to my Mum that we have a funeral for them. So Mum and I dug up a patch of dirt near the back door (no fish of mine were going to be flushed down the toilet) and I buried them. I even made little cardboard tombstones and did the little prayer that I do to Bapuji’s Foi-ba (who I still call Jai-Jai Ba … ’cause I used to jai-jai (sp?) to Foi-ba, get it? Look I was only 18 months old when I started doing it, it kind of stuck) to usher them on into the next world.

Another fish died later that week – I swear to this day, he committed suicide (he did! He voluntarily closed his own gills! I swear, there was nothing wrong with that fish!) and I’ve been nervous about keeping fish ever since.

Funnily enough, at high school I earned the nickname Fish, not for my drinking habits, but because I made kept trying to make Kat laugh during a performance of Romeo and Juliet. We were bored, stuck in the orchestra (I was doubling as a page boy and so was bored, stuck in the orchestra whilst wearing doublet and hose) and Kat had eaten tuna for dinner. I succeeded by pulling my best impersonation of a fish, Kat laughed out loud at the exact moment that Juliet was discovered ‘dead’ by her family … the name has pretty much stuck since (which given the sort of reoccurring characters I used to do in Improv, is a relief … it could have been very bad indeed).

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7 Responses to “One for Tamasha”

  1. Poor fishies!
    One of our (well, my sister’s) goldfish disappeared and we assumed the cat had gone fishing… until months later when its petrified body turned up… it had also committed suicide, jumping out of the tank and flapping about till it was stuck in behind some board games (I guess that’s an okay place to die).

  2. For the record I don’t think I had tuna for dinner (fish makes me puke) so dunno why you pulled the face. Something to do with Cedric the Duck perhaps?

  3. You remember Cedric? Cedric was 7th form, R & J was 6th form … so if you weren’t eating tuna why the hell was I pulling fish faces at you? I definitely remember you laughing and then Mrs Jones scowling at me (thankfully I got to escape backstage shortly afterwards to knock over the polystyrene tombstone with my cape on stage) …

  4. Of course I remember Cedric! Maybe my folks had been trying to make me eat tuna and I’d been moaning about it. I don’t have a good memory for details.

  5. I love this story!!!

    I had two fish when I was about 7? 8? Bert and Ernie. I was so excited about feeding them that I OVERfed them.

    Sigh.

    P.S. Do fish really commit suicide? Is that, like, a thing?

  6. It committed suicide, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    Maybe it’s just the New Zealand fish …

  7. Ha ha. P.S. I like the new look.

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