Sunday, September 16, 2012

Something fishy

Soumya and Max
For the past few days my son comes home with his uniform soiled. He stays silent on asking. Even when his sister jeers, "Did you piss your pants?", he stays quiet. Very unlike him, to stay quiet, that is. I crib about having to wash his uniform on a daily basis. He says, "Mom, give it to me, I will wash when I take my shower." Not that he never offers to help around the house, but this is a bit over the top, even for him.

My children commute to school in the school bus. The bus does not pick them up from the school gate though. The kids have to walk a distance and wait for the bus. It is not an uncommon practice, the roads here are fairly empty and the children are not tiny anymore, however, this is the first thing that creeps up my mind whenever I worry about them being late from school or for that matter, soiled uniforms.

"What does he do  after school? Does he not wait for the bus with you?", I asked my daughter. "No, he has his own group of friends and they are on their own.", she answers with a shrug. I tell her to keep an eye on him, she shrugs again. I go to his room and see that he is cleaning an old Horlicks jar. I ask,"What happens to your pants everyday? Do you play rough, there is so much mud on it, where does it come from?" He makes the face that is known to melt my heart, the face that my daughter hates and my husband perceives as 'trying to get his way around with mamma look'. He puts aside the jar, takes my hand and makes me sit on his bed.

"There is a wadi (wadi is the Arabic for a dry river bed that fills up during flash floods. This term is also commonly used for murky water ponds in low lying areas) near the place where we wait for the bus. One day when I and my friends were playing cricket there, the ball fell in it and while we were taking the ball out I noticed that it is full of fishes. Mamma the wadi has so many fish in it." His eyes dance with glee as he narrates this tale. I can imagine the dull, grey fishes that he would have seen there, but to a person without any knowledge of murky pond habitation, he could well be spinning a tale of rainbow hued fishes with golden spurs. "Have you been getting into that wadi to look at fish?", I asked. "Even better mom, I go everyday to that wadi to catch a fish. I am this close to catching one.", pointing at the jar drying on his window seat he adds, "I am going to prepare a home for the fish I catch, I have also decided on a name, I will call him Lucky."

There was no point in talking about the pitfalls of a wadi to him, that day. No point also in talking about the germs and the diseases he could catch from that place. He was in love with a fish in a pond and you cannot show logic to love. As a mother I could not stop myself from saying,"Watch your step and make sure you are not alone." He nods and I go out of his room, and his world of fishes and ponds.

The following day he is successful and as I open the door to the kids from school, I see him in his dirty uniform, holding a poly-bag filled with water in his hand. He raises it jubilantly on seeing me. Toshali just says "Eeeeow stay away from me," and runs inside. He chases her up the steps and both of them in turn are chased by Max. Lucky is the sole survivor of the three that he caught. Talks of setting him free are not taken well and the response usually is,"He likes me mom, that's why he swam to me, cant you see he is lucky and so am I. We found each other." I smile, Toshali says,"Ohh pleeease...." and S! He went out to the pet-shop and bought fish-food. The plan is to model a tiny fish tank and add a few more friends.
The three tiny fish that were caught and brought home a few days back