Almost one year ago, at Otori Danjiri, a friend of mine won 12 fish in the fish scooping game – you know the one, where you have to catch the fish with the round paper thing before the paper breaks in the water.
When we came back to my apartment afterwards, we put all the fish in a bucket of water. There were eleven goldfish, and one mysterious fish, whose type nobody knew. My son, Hugo, was very excited to see so many fish swimming around the bucket in our living room, and went to sleep dreaming of Nemo.
The next morning when we awoke, we were saddened, but not surprised, to find eleven dead goldfish in the bucket in our living room. We were a bit shocked, however, to find one fish, later to be named Mr Fish, swimming around incredibly genki, trying to eat various dead bucket mates.
Hugo was very upset as we removed all of the poor goldfish, but happy that we still had this one, strange, seemingly happy ‘alien’ species.
Since that day, we have looked after Mr Fish, changing his water and feeding him dried bread, crumbled daily off an old French baguette. Only yesterday, I was telling Sarah, in the office, about what a strange yet lovely fish he was, and how I felt great attachment to him, even though he was only a small fish, not a baby panda at Kobe zoo, for example.
He would get excited when I approached his tank, which was basically a large, old, glass flower vase with a large surface area, giving him a big oxygen supply. He would actually let me touch his head when I fed him, which I thought was unusual for a fish of any description – I was starting to believe that he was really an alien inhabiting a fish’s body!
He seemed very happy in his pot and would often swim around really quickly and sometimes jump out of the water a little, like a miniature dolphin in the show at Misakikouen: we loved our little Mr Fish.
Last weekend, I bought a new super Canon digital SLR camera, from Yodobashi Camera, of course, which I have been wanting to buy for some time. And yesterday morning I took this picture of our little friend, Mr Fish.
I printed a copy of this photo at work today and brought it home with me. When I arrived in my house, all was quiet and my family sleeping. I put the picture of Mr Fish on the fridge with the help of a couple of Goofy fridge magnets, and set about demolishing the dinner which was left out for me.
Looking casually at Mr Fish’s bowl, I noticed there was no movement, no colour, in the water. Feeling worried, I walked round to the other side of the table, and still couldn’t see anything. Where was Mr Fish? With a shock, I suddenly noticed the once genki fish, who I suspect may have been a visitor from another planet, lying long dead, and stiff, in the middle of the table, a good 50 cm from his home. He must have leapt to his death and suffocated on the table while I was at work.
I don’t know how he managed to fly so far out of his tank, and I am really very sad that it happened. I did have a strong affection for that fish, due to the large amount of care I have given him over the last year, and finding him stiff on the dining table brought a tear to my eye, I have to say. I was about to buy a new tank for him, and feel somehow responsible for his death. It seems silly, because here I am, a man who must eat a kilo of fish every week, getting upset about a small fish. But the feeling must be for the love and care that I have given him over the last year.
Five-year old Hugo is asleep. He doesn’t know that Mr Fish is dead, and tomorrow morning while we eat our corn flakes, I have to try to explain why he is not with us, and what happened to him. Wish me luck. I have a lump in my throat right now typing this. It’s not about Mr Fish really, is it? It is about the love and care that we give, and abut how that love and care creates the importance that we place on things, even the smallest, most insignificant thing.
Do you think I will be worrying about Mr Fish when I have my sashimi tomorrow? Course not! But then again, Mr Fish didn’t care about his bucket mates when he was trying to eat them for breakfast almost one year ago. But for all that, he will be missed. You know, the sad thing is, if he hadn’t been so genki, he wouldn’t have died – unless it was his leap for freedom! But I still can’t believe how far he jumped!