The Story Behind the Bottle
The Fish Story
“Always head for the hills, when you have reached the warm and illuminated part of our kingdom”, warned Jolsy’s mother. Jolsy somersaulted, making ripples around his mother and swam seamlessly and faster than he usually does. Jolsy’s mother heaved a sigh. She had been worried ever since Tuktuk, the mackerel has fallen prey to the humans. The sea, their kingdom is no longer safe. She recalled how even few years back they survived peacefully with out the fear of being captured by humans. But now, you never know who wins the lottery.
Jolsy’s mother, a cichlid met her best friend Borji, a white cloud mountain Minnow, while volunteering for the protection campaign. Borji is slightly older than her and have been known to have escaped the human’s net, once. Borji is tiny but swims around with an air of condescension. After escaping the net, his role in the community has become that of a retired army general. He instructs, has fishes coming to him for advice and Borji wears his escape like a medal around his neck. “Times are changing, my dear. It is no longer just the net that we must fear, they have other equipments….specially designed to get hold of us,” said Borji, looking at Jolsy’s mother with a grim face
Borji’s word of warning has instilled a sense of fear in Jolsy’s mother. She knows Jolsy is young and naïve, who loves to swim throughout the day. She is afraid that one day he might swim up, closer to the surface and fall prey to the net, or the strange things that Borji talks about. So, she has limited Jolsy’s movements. She reminded him again and again, “Don’t ever cross the jelly fish community!” Jolsy looks up at his mother with sad eyes. “…but mum, I want to explore the entire sea.” Jolsy’s mother shudders with fear. “don’t you remember what happened to Tuktuk?” Jolsy does not remember. He was too small to worry about human atrocities, too small to fear the net.
One day, while Jolsy was playing with his friends, his friend Will, a black molly fish.He suggested that they go beyond the jelly fish community to a place, which is slightly away from their kingdom. His brother told him that there are beautiful pink corals and if one is lucky enough they can also find pearls. Jolsy remembered his mother’s warning that it was not just the humans but they must also save themselves from other fishes like Sharks and dangerous ones like octopuses. Jolsy refused to go, but Will insisted that they go. He assured Jolsy that they will be fast and his mother will never come to know. After the fishes went back to their homes, Jolsy and Will sneaked out. Will suggested that they swim slighty closer to the surface, that way they will be able to see the light. Jolsy complied, he was having fun. The water never looked so beautiful. Jolsy closed his eyes and swam…he swam and swam..like it was a dream. Suddendly, Jolsy felt a slight tug at his fins. Jolsy could not believe! He was being lifted up from the water!
In a minute, Jolsy found himself lying in a heap along with other fishes. And it was not even the sea. He gasped for breath. He looked around for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found. Tears welled up in his eyes. He jumped about the place but the net restricted his movements very well. He could even see the sea, but he could not jump back into it. He looked around and saw that he was the only coloured fish among the silver ones.
Before he could realise much, or try some other acrobatics to free himself, his net was taken away by a man. Jolsy heard that they were going to be sold to another man who wants to feed them to the guest coming over for his daughter’s wedding. Jolsy cried aloud to his mother and Borgi but now they were a world apart.
Before reaching the market, the fisherman met his daughter who was returning home from her school. She saw her father and frolicked around him. Suddenly her eyes fell on Jolsy. She was amazed to see such a colourful fish among all the silver ones. She nudged her father and pointing to Jolsy she said, “Please daddy, can I have him? I want to keep him in my jar.” The fisherman looked at his net to see Jolsy. Yes, indeed he was too small too be eaten. Moreover he doubted that he was an edible fish. He read in a book that some colourful fishes are not fit for consuming. He thought that Jolsy will not fetch a good price in the market. So, he let his daughter have Jolsy for her playmate. The little girl was too thrilled to take Jolsy home. She brought a big glass bowl, filled it with water and put Jolsy in it. Jolsy finally found water and was able to breathe again.
For the first few weeks, Jolsy missed the sea, his mother and his friends. He became teary every time he thought about his mother. But now, he has made friends with the little girl. Like him, the little girl also has no friends. She talks to him and sings to him the whole day. The only time Jolsy gets lonely is the time when the little girl goes to school. He has also come to know that the little girl is known as Ruby. Sometimes Jolsy looks at Ruby with big, expressive eyes, and he thanks Ruby for saving his life.