What is with neighbours and pets? The family in the flat below ours used to have two dogs, lets call them Barker and Biter. Barker would go ballistic the moment it detected movement within a 500 ft radius, so essentially it would be barking all the time. Biter was more the silent,sinister type. If it took the ‘Which Godfather character are you’ quiz on Facebook, it would definitely be Michael Corleone. It seemed like it was biding its time, waiting for some fool to step too close. So after months of living in terror of one dog biting my foot off, while the other knocked me senseless with a powerful assault on the eardrums, ( all while their owner kept trying to convince me that they actually liked me), the family decided to move out. I was ecstatic when I heard this, and even lent them a hand with moving their stuff and waved goodbye as their car left the place.
There reigned a few months of peace in 715/A, before the guy upstairs threw a spanner in the works. Last week, he came down and told us that he was going to be out of town for a couple of weeks, and asked if we could look after his pet fish for him.
Now, most of my posts, particularly the ones involving animals, might have shown me to be a cold hearted person. No compassion for the four legged kind, none of that milk of human kindness, you might think. While I admit to not liking animals that could possibly attack you, I am totally ok with fish. In fact I was feeling positively neighbour friendly, only, I had to check something first, so I asked the guy if it was a piranha. The guy gave me a strange look, said it wasnt, and then went up to bring the fish.
He brought back a little bowl, with something that looked like it had broken off a peacock’s ass floating in it. Now, in a (misguided) attempt to be friendly, I asked him what the fish’s name was. He looked at me puzzled, and told me, it had no name. (Supposedly people dont name their fishes. Who knew?) After, that, he kind of avoided me, and gave all other instructions to my room mate.
At one point here, I decided to lighten the situation with my trademark humour, so I told him ‘Dont worry, we wont eat it!’. At that moment, he’d just handed over the fish food to the roomie, so thinking I meant that, he told me quite seriously, that I shouldnt. But I cheerfully corrected his mistake, and told him brightly, ‘No no the fish, we wont eat it, dont worry!’. At this point, he looked positively worried, and looked at the fish, probably imagining me giving the fish a name, and calling it by that as I prepared to grill it. A struggle raged within him, but apparently having no other option, he left.
However a week passed, and the fish was alive and well..as well as you could expect a wispy blob to be I suppose. But then the roomie had to leave for Chennai for a few days, leaving me alone with the fish. Now the instructions for care are simple, drop a couple of grains of the fish food two times a day, and leave it alone for the rest of the time. Hmph, easy to say.
What if the tennis ball I bounce off the walls of my house goes and hits the fish bowl? What if I drop more than two grains? What if I forget to feed it once.. or feed it late, too late? What about all those bubbles towards one side of the bowl, what the hell is that about? Were they there earlier? Why isnt the bloody fish moving? Is it just sleeping? Have I fed it already today? Uh oh…
I get this bad feeling, that despite my best efforts (or probably because of them) the fish’s days are numbered.