Friday, May 2, 2014

Fish life

What would you do if you were a fish? Strange question. Strange life. But seriously, what if you were a fish?

The past four weeks, I’m amused and entertained by the behavior of six fish creatures in our hexagon-shaped aquarium. My daughter Shiloh Ruthie has been harping about an aquarium for the longest time ever, and finally four weeks back, her dream came true.

It was a weekend when the hubby finally set up the hexagon-shaped aquarium. I had to mention the shape because I found it unique. Naturally it was designed by the hubby who is an artist. So one cannot question his motivation on the aquarium’s shape.

I was at home when the first live fish came in. It was a medium-sized fish, which at first looked like a gold fish to me. I was delighted because it was medium-sized already and most of all, because it was given free.

Alas! I learned quickly that this fish creature was banished by the previous owner because she (let’s assume the fish is female, or would you rather male?) is a predator fish! She attacks smaller fishes until they gradually die. And so when the kids came, we started arguing about the predator fish. Now, isn’t that fun? The family of four argued about a fish.

That weekend, I decided to buy another fish specie. This time, we chose a fish with big eyes with the safe assumption (or so we thought) that the Predator would get intimidated by the bulging eyes. The fish name is “Extremities”.

When Extremities finally made it to the aquarium water, and we were counting on his bulging eyes to intimidate Predator, here comes Predator on the attack! Ha! Talk about intimidation.

From then onwards, Extremities had to fend for herself by staying away from Predator, and ultimately finding herself a safe sanctuary - a big shell that we have decorated the aquarium with. As I ponder on the pitiable situation of Extremities – she is held hostage in her own habitat, and worst, by her own kind, I can’t help but situate her story with us – humans. It’s an analogy. So, even in fish life, there is predator and victim; tyrant and slave; friend and foe; mighty and little; proud and meek; arrogant and humble.

Extremities only surfaces during feeding time but immediately returns to her sanctuary after taking a bite or two. She is so intimidated by Predator.

The next weekend, we bought four more fish creatures: a pair of Ryukins and a pair of hammer heads – which my daughter insisted are shark variety. No use arguing with the kid when her mind is set – about the fish.

We hoped and prayed that Predator wouldn’t hurt anyone lest, she’ll be banished to oblivion. Alas! the same thing happened. Predator immediately took a liking to one Rayukin and started hurting her. Poor thing. So immediately, Predator was banished to the pail where she stays up to this day for wanting of a recipient. Poor thing.

The moment her shadow left the aquarium, fish life became alive. Extremities swam up and joined the rest of her kind. What joy she must have felt now that she is free. She must have shouted FREEDOM!

Then, lo and behold! We saw something magnificent unfolding before our very eyes. Extremities changed colors. Now I understand why she is called Extremities: she can change color from very light to very dark and in-between. It’s beautiful seeing her transformation from a light-colored fish to a black one. Then, she sheds black for gray retaining dark stripes like a zebra before turning light again.

Analogy, in fish life, when one is truly free; a fish creature shows her true colors and beauty. Sounds human.

(This article was originally written for a column in a local newspaper.)

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