Arshid Malik

I am in for a blast of all times. The source of this blast lies in my son’s newly acquired pets. Well, I am not exactly sure that fishes can be categorized as pets even though I, rather we have (it is a full time family affair now) no problems calling them that and throwing the rules of classification to the winds for after all it is all about what makes you feel better. I don’t want to enter into an argument here for what I actually and basically instinctually want to speak about is the blast of all times. For preschoolers I would like to mention that this “blast” is not like a bomb blast but rather a manner of saying that one is having a very good time – a blast of a time.

Now what happened is that we got a fish tank into our home and I just like calling it that – a fish tank – a habitat for aquatic animals is what I prefer more. The word tank brings back bad memories of the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (twice) and Guatemala (twice) and Cuba and Dominican Republic and Grenada and Korea and Lebanon and Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia and Iran (twice) and Libya (thrice) and Panama and Somali and Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Kosovo and Philippines and Honduras and Nicaragua, even though according to the modern global lexicon most of these invasions would be better categorized as “peace keeping missions”. Digression kills the beauty of it.

I was writing about fish and got myself into the frying pan. Anyways, I beg your pardon.Now keeping fish is a delicate art that we as a family are learning. The good thing is that keeping fish is not exactly a costly affair. There are onetime costs that burn holes in your pockets if you are on a micro budget as far as keeping pets are concerned but then it hits the slow track with occasional hiccups. The real part is taking care of the fish and the habitat in which you keep them. You have to be super careful while attending to you fish for they are very delicate creatures – the slightest fall in temperature and you feel like you are in the business of fishing which forces you to kill for money. To be exact you are investing in a labour intensive mechanism they day you buy yourself some fish and a habitat.

When we started everything was going fine. Then after a month or so the fish started cracking up and within a week’s time we lost a good number of fish. Now we do not have doctors for fishes. Or do we? Well I am not sure there are pet clinics which attend to fish. So the whole family started looking up the internet – the widest and the most easily accessible information source in the world now – and there were downpours in the evening with every member sharing his or her part of gathered information which eventually left us very confused. Now, the Internet has some drawbacks. All the information is at your finger tips and this is not good for hypochondriacs, kids and womenfolk. I know many people who fall sick and after calling in sick at their respective offices they surf the net for information relating to the concerned symptoms and eventually “find out” that they might have such and such disease and end up depressed for there is no one to tell them that all they have is a toothache and not tumor. Digression kills the beauty of it. I was talking about fish and landed in the information Net. Do excuse me.

What happened is that we decided to call in someone who knew how to deal with fish, and yes it cost us money. He arrived to tell us that all that we had been doing was basically wrong and then taught us the right method of keeping fish – from dying. He cleaned up the fish habitat, cleaned the gravel, the filter and all the allied accessories and after spending half a day at it he left us amazed. The fish habitat never looked so good. It was so clean that we could now actually count the fish in our tank. So “Beware of the Fish”.

The pleasure of the whole thing is that one, you get some discipline in your life once you follow the patterns of the fish (no not the scales, the feeding and medicating and cleaning patterns, besides switching the light off more than often so that the fish can relax rather than amuse you and two, watching the fish move around really captivates you; they are such graceful and colourful creatures that you can spend a good hour watching the fish, only that you get a sprain later.  And then one of my friends who works for the state-run fisheries department told me that these days psychiatrists advise mentally sick people to keep fish as it has a soothing effect on their minds. I still wonder why he said that to me!!!


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