Of death and such

Lalwant Singh, in all his glory

Lalwant Singh, in all his glory

Those who have read my blog before, know I had a betta fish, Lalwant Singh.

Lalwant Singh died last week. At night he came to me for his food, nipped at my finger and all was well. Morning, he was curled up on a leaf, all dead. I guess I can take consolation in the fact that he did not suffer.

But then, what do I know of suffering, and how do I know whether a short suffering is any less hard to bear than a prolonged one? Does a small fish suffer? Does it suffer as much as a human? Is the suffering of the human more evident to me because a human is bigger than a small fish, and the fact that I am a human myself? Each time a fish dies I go through similar hand-wringing and attempts at philosophical acceptance.

I’ve tried not to think of Lalwant Singh the last few days, been sucked into A to Z Challenge, which I’m co-hosting this year, and for which I’m writing fiction like this one.

But even in the fiction, I can’t stop wondering about death, about what one feels when one dies, about suffering in death, about the act of dying. And all this because of a fish.

Writers are crazy. No, let me amend that, I’m crazy. Always have been.

I’ve washed the aquarium clean, run the water again, and am waiting for the water to settle down, so I can bring home a ‘replacement’.

Dead is dead, I know. But then, there is also life, for both fish and human, and the embracing of it– with a complete and acute awareness that death is, and always will be, if not the only, but definitely the most inevitable consequence.


RIP Kartar Singh

Kartar Singh woke up this morning, did  his usual happy dance, broke his fast of the last 3 days, and made me very happy.

Then in the afternoon, I found him tail up, his head stuck in the pebbles, dead.

I know Kartar Singh was only a betta fish, but I feel his loss.

Time to resort to the lesson I learned the hard way : Sadness at death is proportional to the level of attachment.

Another one, a corollary, one I had forgotten: Never name a fish.

RIP, Kartar Singh. I’ll miss you.

In which I Wonder about Dead Bodies, Lessons

I spent all of today hauling dead bodies.

Ok, not hauling, but picking up.

Right, maybe I’m being a tad over-dramatic? Because the dead in this case are fish.

Tiny, and aptly named mosquito rasboras, the pink-red-black adults grow no more than 3/4 inch.

Quite a few have died since last night, though  the others don’t look sick.

As I picked up each floating, spiraling body from my 4ft aquarium, I wondered how life and death are relative…and if a life is a life, any life.

If a fish’s life is not as important as that of a human, is it merely because in the grand scheme of creation, the death of a human makes a bigger difference than that of a fish? Or any other tiny creature?

I hear that life on our planet would survive very well indeed if humans as a species turned extinct. If, on the other hand, all the bees on our planet dies out, or all the insects, life on our blue ball might be in peril.

So, death.

If my pet dog dies, I’ll be very sad. If a stray dies, not so much. If someone I love/ care for dies, I’ll be devastated. If a stranger on the other side of the world dies, it would be a blip on my screen. If it is a celebrity, I would be sadder. If the stranger is infamous, like Osama, I would be curious, but not really very sad.

So, my reaction to death varies with who/ what dies.

If I loved all the tiny rasboras in my aquarium personally, each death would kill a part of me. Seeing that they are one of many, and I have no particular bond with each of them, I just calmly get up, fish out the dead fish, and flush it.

Sadness at death is proportional to the level of attachment. Lesson learned from the dying/dead fish.

For the time being, the most immediate problem is figuring out what exactly is wrong with my aquarium.

But somewhere, I must squirrel away the lesson at the back of my head. I have lost loved ones before, and will (sadly, but inevitably) lose more. Or I might realise that it is my turn to be lost.

That would be good time to unwrap the lesson, and put it to use. Nothing can make the death of my rasboras worthwhile, but I’ll settle for a lesson.

Such is life. And death.

Death, Lessons, Fish, Life

Death, Lessons, Fish, Life

Writing about waiting like shoals of bluefish

Looking Up and Down

Looking Up and Down

And then they all lay down and prepared to die. There is only death, they were told, the one true thing, the one sure end to us all. Let us learn to embrace it, to find in it the solace it provides, to close our eyes a little and feel the trembling darkness, hear its sighs and splashes. Even in this blue paradise, where light has no beginning nor end, let us lie like shoals of bluefish, quiet in the darkness, waiting for the end.

Writing, fish, life, death

Platies, Mystery Disease

Platies, Mystery Disease

I’ve been writing something or the other the past few days, and today spent a few hours with some super writing-friends writing some more. That’s good and should make me happy.

But, all is not well in my aquarium, and I didn’t know this would keep into my writing. That it is so important for me.

I have had fish-related posts before, but now that I have flushed down three fish since last evening, I’m beginning to wonder if burying them instead is a better idea. Would it give the whole thing some ‘dignity’? Does death ever have dignity, even if it is that of little fish who make no difference to anyone (other than me, maybe, cos I’m sitting here stressing over it) ?

Meanwhile all the other fish in the aquarium are swimming around, life goes on for them. Well, unless the mystery disease gets them too.

Writing, angels, death…hah

When I got my aquarium, I had determined I would buy small fish by the dozens. Small, pretty much indistinguishable from each other. Never big fish, nothing ever that will be missed straightaway.

I stuck to my guns to more than a year, and then gave in.

I just had to have some angels, and the day before I got two pairs of them, all silver and pearl and snow, swimming around like quaint little fairies. Since they’re usually picky eaters, I was not unduly worried when only one of them made for the multi-colred flakes when I fed them at night.

I had an excellent writing session while sitting across the room watching them play about yesterday.Today morning, I fished out two of them, lying still and white on their sides in the corner of the aquarium. No disease, no nothing. Just dead. Perhaps it was the stress of water change, wrong temperature, I’ll never know. A third seems to be gulping too much. I’m resigned–if it survives tonight, it’ll be a miracle.

So I’ll be left with one lone white angel (if that).

Maybe that is all I deserve. One angel per person sounds about right. Not.

Writing, death, light

Death in the family affects different people in different ways. Some are made more spiritual, some less so, some are left without feeling or emotion, some are given excess of it.

I do not fit neatly into any of the categories, because I fit into each at different moments, which perhaps means I do not fit at all.

The one thing that I find the need to do is to write, and I suppose that is the one thing that would bring me healing. The weather is all doom and gloom as I sit at my desk, but the pen is moving across the notebook, and that’s some light right there.

Writing about horror and self-loathing

As I’ve been moaning in the last few posts, I’m not getting much writing done.

Determined to reverse this situation, I sat my butt down this morning to write. But of course, I had to check out the mail and the news before I stared at the blank page. (ggggrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..)

I saw this piece , and it was not the incident that shocked me as much as my reaction: This would make a compelling story, was my first thought. Here were people who were committing suicides and killing their own children because they lost jobs, and here I was, mining for a story. Disgusting. For a moment, I really, really hated myself. And despite all the excuses I’m giving myself, (writers borrow from fact to write fiction, and other such crap), I can’t feel good about myself.

Hah. So much for a great start to a writing day. Maybe I can write all about self-loathing? See you all at the other end of 1000 words (hopefully) of utter crap (of this I’m sure)!

Sorry to be spreading negative energy guys, now for some mind calming exercises, and back to my notebook!

Writing About a Painting

I have written before about writing prompts and writing inspirations from an image. I am trying the experiment on this blog today with the help of an image from Rick Mobbs, who was also the “prompter” behind this post.Painting inspired writing


I thought you were falling in love with me, death.

Your kisses on my nape, your breath in my hair, are quivering still.

I sought the hollow of your breast, a cave of ice, where I could nestle, undisturbed, under warm quilted snow, for a slumber that knows no awakening.

I have looked to you, death, and you have looked at me for all the years that we stayed, surrounded by this blue haze, this illusion of certainty.
Swollen and sore, longing for you, my death, my body laid, warm and in wait.

It sought your touch.

But my body was never on your mind, and it stayed, steady, breathing, white, like a song frozen on your lips.
You looked at me and I looked to you, laden with the weight of a gaze held too long.

You were once so near, I could have reached out and touched your skin, tender and shriveled as an autumn leaf.

I waited, looking over my shoulder, waiting for you to come nearer, but softly, death, you left, just as you had come, crept out of my veins in stealth.
I am tired, death,waiting, and still awake.

Writing About Guilt

Thinnking about death and final momentsOh, there she is! Must go up to her! Is that milk I smell? She does look like she has something in her hand…yes, yes, slurp, it is milk! Come closer, come closer! Oh I am so hungry and this thing at my neck pulls so! I know I stink, girl, but just come closer so I can have a go at that bowl. Come nearer, nearer! Ok, now!

It is silly how useless these legs are, I can drag along so fine with these on the front, but how about having a pair to shove me up at the back too, like my brothers and sisters? Never mind, never mind, I will get to it in time, can I have some of that milk, please, now??

Ok…sigh..that was good! Now why does she look so down? Say something! I like it when you say things, I don’t understand them one bit, but I like the sound. Reminds me of my mum. I like how you touch my head too, I know you avoid the back because I have been sitting around in my own shit, but you see I can’t pull up my behind at all! I try, I try, see how I try! Oh look! I managed a bit! Oh no! I fell down again! Don’t look so low, I will manage, I will!

So you are going to do that washing thing? Why so early today? Usually you do it when I get my food next. I like that food: all that yellow and white fluffy stuff, very smelly, but nice! Ok, now, I hate this cold, why do you have to put me in water? There is not even enough sun yet! I like the way you pick me up tho, by the scruff of my neck, like mum used to.

Not like that monster boy who picked me up, making that awful sound looking really happy, just before he dropped me. I used to be able to move all my four legs before then. But when I fell, I was hurt, oh so hurt. I cried, I yelped, because it hurt. I was scared already because he had taken me away from my mum and my siblings, but now it hurt!

There, you got me all clean, I like the smell of that stuff you put on me. Your hand smells nice too, I like telling you how nice you are by licking your hand, because I don’t know how else to say it. It is like when you pat my head, and say Feenix, Feenix! That’s me right? I know when you say Feenix, you are calling me! You are saying something about me right now!

I have to call you something too, but I know you don’t understand anything when I talk to you, you just stroke me softer. So I lick your hand. You make a funny, happy sound then! But why aren’t you making that sound today? And why is your face all wet? Pick me up, pick me up, so I can lick you clean! I don’t stink right now, so you can pick me up!

Now that I am full, lets play! I cant move much I know, but you can bring your hand near and I can try biting at it, like I always do! Such fun! And such a nice day it is too! I’d like to go a bit further, but this thing at my neck you tie me with! Ah, can’t you just loosen it a little bit? Let’s go, come on, please!

Hey you are picking me up, what fun! There, there, I know you don’t look too good today. That’s alright. I will lick you better. Hey your face doesn’t taste alright, all salty, what is this wet thing all over it? It looks like water, but ugh, it tastes bad! Never mind, I will dry it up for you, there girl! How about some more milk then, eh? I can do with some more! I like it when there is nothing on my neck, so wonderful, so free!

So you are putting me into the basket? We are going to meet that man eh? I don’t like it when he pokes me though, he tries to make me stand, and I hate it when you look so low when I fall. I want to stand, I do! I will too, you’ll see!

Ok we are there. I don’t like that table. I feel scared, don’t put me down, don’t!

Ok, nasty man go away. Give me back to her!

Wait, girl, why are you going away? Don’t leave me and go, please, please, please! I am calling to you, are you deaf? You always come when I cry, don’t leave me with the nasty man!

Oh, he hurt me, he put that sharp thing in me! The nasty man hurt me! Come back!

I feel sleepy now, I feel so sleepy…come back, come back!