They’re fishy, but family

A cousin had a tortoise that would shake hands with people. Our dog used to throw his head back and sing in his own doggy voice when he heard us playing the accordion, guitar or our neighbour’s playing the mouthorgan. Our fish called Henry, whom we left behind with our friend in Bethesda, was another pet who responded to music and people. We can’t stop reminiscing certain incidents in our lives that comfort us.

Living in an apartment calls for no “walking” or “noisy” pets. Once when returning from the doctor’s, we stopped to do a few chores. As I finished mine and came out, I saw my mother-in-law busy assembling a fish bowl and its accessories for our daughter at the pet store. Images of cleaning that bowl and the other paraphernalia flit across my mind, but when I saw the enthusiasm with which she had chosen the things, I kept my mouth shut.

The four goldfish looked lovely in their packet. I came home and kept all the items in a row as I waited for my daughter to come back from college. Would she or would she not take to them?

The bell rang and next I heard was a loud “wow!”. She was thrilled. She picked up the packet. “Let me introduce them to their new home,” she said. The tour began with a stop at the telephone, too, telling them to “feel free to call” whenever! The whole incident was so amusing.

Next came assembling of the entire set-up, lighting and all. The fish were then carefully deposited in their bowl. 

Then began the exercise of how to make them feel at home. To our amazement, the fish were ever so receptive to the videos she played for them on her iPad. Off and on, we would hear a few strips of conversation with the all too eager fish coming to the side of the bowl whenever they were spoken to. Cleaning their bowl carefully and personally were all delights that added to a busy day.

“You have fish for pets?” her friend had asked one day. “But they don’t do anything! They are just ornamental pieces in a house,” she had added. “Why not something more exciting?” some of my daughter’s friends suggested. But nothing changed, and the bond only grew stronger.

It is amazing how pets know who their caregiver is. They rush to the side of the bowl when they see my daughter. Her first enquiry on a call sometimes is, “How are the fishies doing?” This one time when a fish took ill, she announced, “Green peas powdered are a great detox.”

The feeling of being connected to something is so important in our day-to-day lives. It may be as simple as having a fishbowl at home. Their arrival has made such a difference in our lives that we shoot occasional glances towards them in between reading a novel or engage in a short conversation with them.

There is something to look forward to in the day and another member in the family to wish “goodnight”!

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