Story for the Day: The Pet Fish
Soledhan caught a fish today and he decided to keep it as a pet. He asked me to write a story about it. Here it is.
The Pet Fish
It was soon evening and Soledhan’s nightly visit to the commons was expected. The commander and Den Asaan sat at the table finishing their correspondence for the day when the door to the main room was thrown open and Soledhan burst toward his parents with all the gaiety and wholesome happiness a child in recent possession of something special could allow.
The commander had never seen her little creature is such exalted spirits. At first, she supposed it was due to the insalubrious amount of sweets he was fed after spending a day under the auspices of an overindulgent grandfather, but when she observed a small tied mesh in his hand with a small carp inside, she understood his joy and smiled.
“Malehi, Iimaa,” Soledhan entreated his mother in his small voice, holding the mesh with the swimming fish up for her perusal.
“I daresay that is a very fine carp,” she said, lifting her son into her lap. “Is it for eating? If it is, you shall be the one to clean it, my love.”
Soledhan giggled and determined that it was certainly not for eating regardless of the raised brow he received from his father across the table.
The commander supposed her father was the culprit for this instigation and when he appeared in the entranceway, tired from a day of hard labour and chasing a sprightly child up the winding stair, she said to her child, “Did you say thank you to Den Utaa for your fish?”
“Aw, no need, darlin’” said Jaicobh, finding his breath. “He caught that one himself from the pond in the east field. I had no part in it, except for that there mesh. We gotta find a bowl and some food for that fella.”
The commander made a slight grimace when she remarked her mate preparing his lecture for their son. She had not the time to mention the Haanta notion on keeping a pet in the home when Rautu stabbed his finger in the carp’s direction and pursed his lips at the child.
“Did you ask that sakaanas if he would be your Anonnaa?” Rautu demanded.
Soledhan looked down at the swimming fish and then back at his father. “No, Utaa,” he said in a saddened tone.
“Then you will free it. If it has not told you its wish for a new home then you are imprisoning it.”
Jaicobh saw how dejected and submissive his grandson became and looked to his daughter for an answer.
“The Haanta are not allowed to keep animals in the home without the creature’s consent,” she said quietly, passing her fingers through her son’s curls to sooth him.
“But how are you gonna ask a fish?” Jaicobh protested. “Someone’s gonna fish it from the pond and eat it anyway. Might as well let him have it.”
“They see eating as the natural course of things and see removing a creature from its natural environment as cruelty.”
Jaicobh scoffed and tossed his hands at the giant. “You let him have that cat,” was his firm remonstration.
“That khaasta was bonded to him by my brother,” Rautu rejoined. “It consented to be his Anonnaa while my brother was present. No one with Sotaa is present and therefore no one can speak for that fish.”
The two large and obstinate men placed their hands on their hips and glowered at one another in an imposing silence. The aspiration was that soon one of them would concede out of the need to sleep or eat or succumb to given early morning tasks, but as Jaicobh did not require food and Rautu was not one for rest, both were as immovable as the other. They would never agree on this point: according to Jaicobh, it was wrong to take something away that his grandson had earned especially when the lessons of responsibility could be apprehended, but in the Den Asaan’s estimation, any creature being confined to the glass walls of a tight bowl could not teach any example but one of brutality.
“Well,” the commander said, standing and taking her son by the hand. “While Utaa and Den Utaa are occupied with their fierce battle of masculinity, we shall find some fresh water and crumbs for it.”
Soledhan was instantly happy and followed his mother down to the kitchen, singing one of the tunes Hathanta taught him on the numerous fish surrounding the islands.
A bowl was obtained, fresh water supplied, ample crumbs found, and they returned to commons with the fish wriggling happily about its new home. While the two men were still engaged with their vigilant stares, the bowl was placed at the center of the table and Soledhan was all gratitude to his mother for allowing him the prospect of a new pet.
“You shall have to name him, my love,” she said smilingly.
“No, you will not name it,” Rautu demanded, breaking from his stance. “It already has a designation for what it is.”
The commander smirked at her scowling mate. “You have numerous names and I still call you Iimon Ghaala.”
Rautu humphed, folded his arms across his chest and pouted in defeat. He protested that Hathanta should be applied to for answer to this quandary, but even if the child’s teacher should be asked, the giant sensed that Hathanta, as gentle and gracious as he was, must agree with Jaicobh on the matter. Lessons to be learned were more important than those that were read and spoken of, and if there was an occasion for application, the moral of dependability and obligation would be best learnt through the keeping of a pet. Rautu sighed, realizing he was overpowered by Hathanta even through his non-attendance, and grumbled while glowering at Jaicobh’s simpering countenance.
“My only concern is how to keep your cat away from it, my love,” the commander said. “You shall have to feed it twice a day, change its water oftener than you should like to do, and the instant you shirk your responsibilities, Utaa claims the right to eat him.”
Soledhan looked up at his father’s dissatisfied expression and swore that he would perform the duty of burying his fish rather than give the giant the satisfaction of success on any account, whether in the maintaining of his pet or in the inconstancy of his young considerations.
Jaicobh was pleased to see his grandson’s wish fulfilled. He would not so excellent and attentive a child forlorn over a fish and he had no scruple in replacing it after it should pass if not for the child’s continued happiness then for the Den Asaan’s enduring perturbation.