The Fish Wali Case
Posted by Subhendu on December 1, 2009
It was a busy street. But still people stopped and poured over the area. There was a pungent smell in the area but I did not pay attention to my olfactory cells. I pushed my way in. She lay motionless, but I could sense her soft breathing. It was as if she was trying to breathe in the last of her breaths. It was as if the world was going to end for her. Her body had lost its shine. She lay wounded, on the stone. I looked around, curious faces but none paid attention. This was perhaps routine. I had been to this place for the first time. I looked at her eyes – crystal clear, glass like. I spread my hand forward to touch her, to feel if she is still warm.
Kya dekh rahe ho.. Mari nahin hai. Abhi Taazi hai! A shrill feminine voice echoed.
I changed my focus. The FishWali (fisherwoman) was barely 27. Of Course Maharashtrian. The street lamp about 30 meters high was showering all its light on her. She was glowing in the light. Hair neatly combed, colorful bangles on both her hands, she was wearing a crumpled cotton sari till her knees and was ready to see my lips move. She was full of anticipation like a robot. Ready for the next instruction. To cut the fish into pieces and wrap them up in the black polythene. I turned to her left. There lay a kid, barely a year old, naked, covered up in dirty yet thick but torn clothes, crying intermittently. She looked at her child, caressed her a bit, then picked up the stick to shoo the cats/dogs near her business capital. I normally don’t eat fish. I love prawns but had convinced myself long back that prawns are not fish. The Fishwali was not selling prawns so I had no reason to be at this place but somehow I was meant to be here today.
As I stood looking at the mother and son, I could feel the same love and affection. The one which makes the father and mother pigeon birds on my window pane sit hours together on their eggs.
I had been to a hospital where someone in my near family was admitted. While I was attending him, I turned to look at the side bed where a middle aged man, barely in his 50s was attending to his wife. Curious, I asked him about what happened and why they are here. The man said – She is my wife. Our only daughter had both her kidneys infected so had them removed. Now my wife is donating one of her kidneys to her. That is the reason we are here. I was speechless, moved. Never ever had I thought that someone could donate something from their body for someone else. But this is what is love, this is what is affection. Parents can actually do all measures to see their children happy. I could see the same love and affection in the Fishwalis eyes.
She was getting impatient. All this while, she was blabbering something. I could see her lips move but my inner voices were so loud that I could not hear her at all. Then she said, Aap ko lena ho to lijiye, warna jagah khaali kijiye! I could hear that somehow.
I asked her to pack 500 grams. As I uttered these words, I could see the smile twitch on her lips. She was excited, and picked up a large Rohu and sliced it clean. When I walked back holding the wet polythene after counting the smelly currency notes from her, I could notice that she was smiling of satisfaction. I felt contended too. Chemistry! The child also stopped crying.
Back in the 11th floor of my apartment, while I was wondering what to do with the Fish, since neither I knew how to cook, nor I loved fish, I struck off another day in the calendar. Threw the fish in the trash.
15 More days to go!