Sunday, March 11, 2007
Sharky and George
Picture courtesy: Corbis
Yesterday I went to the Pet Shop after a very long time and optimisticaly picked up a pair of Goldfish. It has been many moons and many Goldfish burials since I have picked up a pair of Goldfish. The last one who died got an awesome but somber burial.
Me:(taking dead goldfish in my hands) And may God bless your soul and take you into his arms.
[Sprinkles Holy Water on the fish and places the fish gently into the grave*]
* Watery grave
I named my new fishes Sharky and George, after my favorite childhood toon. Sharky is fat and George is thin. I was hoping that Sharky is a male and George is a female or vice versa. I had great hopes on Sharky and George like I had on the seventeen thousand others who died in the quest of fulfilling my hopes of becoming a Goldfish farmer. Like the proverbial story of the milkmaid that we all have had to read compulsorily, thanks to NCERT, I too was like the Milkmaid who dreamt of selling milk and buying hens, then selling the eggs and buying goats and so forth till she had bought up the various State Dairy Development Boards and then finally in a hostile take over acquires the National Dairy Development Board itself. (Mr Kurien doesn’t know what a close shave he has had with this one!).
My dreams were quite similar to the milkmaid in the story. I would buy a Goldfish that would give me numerous baby Goldfishes which I would sell and buy more Goldfishes who will give me another million babies that I would sell and quit school. Simple. (I wasn’t too ambitious in 4th standard)
If you bump into one of those numerous ex Goldfish sellers who live in the French Riviera and Hawaii, they will fondly recall a determined little girl who came religiously to their shops in Shivajinagar after every Sunday Mass at St Patrick’s and went home with a Goldfish. They loved the little girl, especially since they knew that she would be back in a day or two, or if luck was on their side in a couple of hours to buy another one. She was the only known person in the history of Goldfish buying to have made it to the elite list of “Frequent Buyers Club” and she earned numerous freebies like the FREE opportunity to pat the Pomeranian puppies kept in the cages or FREE ten minutes of playtime with the cute rabbits also kept in cages.
Accompanying her was a gentleman whose only purpose in life seemed to be paying for the fish. Sometime accompanying them would be a boy, a little elder to the girl who was partly mute as all he would be heard talking was “Bet you this fish will not live for more than three hours. Anyone for a bet???”
Boy: Bet you this fish will live only 12 hours.
Gentleman who always paid for the fish: No way, she will take good care of this one! Won’t you mole?
Girl: *Nods head vigorously*
Boy: What’s the bet!
Gentleman who always paid for the fish: 10 Rupees.
Gentleman who always paid for the fish: *sigh* Here take the ten rupees, you can return it if the fish lives.
The boy would take the ten rupees and add it to the thick wad of notes in his pocket. The boy was also perhaps the first known boy in history to have his own “Cash Box” by age ten. He was the guy who came to the family’s aid when there was a critical shortage of change in India.
Dad: Son do you have change for a hundred rupees?
(Boy counts nine ten rupees from the 20 ten rupee notes he has in change)
Boy: Dad I am afraid I have only ninety rupees.
Dad: Never mind, here is 100 rupees. Give me whatever you have.
And thus he amassed great wealth while his sister still hoped to make it big and rich in the Goldfish business.
Now Sharky and George were also greeted with great glee and anticipation and lots of mental arithmetics by the the boy, now a fully grown boy. By now he had also become very supportive and extremely encouraging of his sisters ambitions.
Grown up Boy: 24 hours!! I give this fish 24 hours!!
Gentleman who did not pay for fish this time: No way, she will take good care of this one! Won’t you mole?
Girl: *Nods head not so vigorously*
Grown up Boy: 24 hours!! A minute more and I pay one thousand rupees!!
Gentleman who did not pay for fish this time: 25 hours!
24 hours later Sharky and George were dead. After collecting the money, as a gesture of sympathy and support in my time of grief and my Dad’s time of loss, my brother laid the fishes in a clean sheet of paper one beside the other for the burial. The fat one first then the thin one. Under the fat one he wrote “Before”. Under the thin one he wrote “After”.
I bet you a thousand rupees that I will find him in 24 hours!! Any takers????
(I just got an SMS from him that says "Deal!")