Just a week back, I was in my hometown in Silchar, South Assam and our ancestral place is a bit downtown (if you understand what I mean). There, surrounded by vast paddy fields is our house where I spent many of my vacation days, when I was a kid. This time around when I took my son there, it was just reliving those memories again. After a sumptuous lunch loaded with rice and fish, when you step out on the verandah you are gently thawed by the setting sun. Winter is already there, and winters are my favourite when am back home. I could almost see my grannie who is now long gone, in the courtyard along with some village ladies, and some of their conversations were strangely familiar. The domestic help does not listen…takes too many unscheduled leaves…has ruined a favourite saree. The wrinkled faces were familiar too, just that it was now my mother’s and my aunt’s. J
There is a nearby waterbody which is shallow and was used to store water before it was channelized to the fields. That is where I and my cousins used to fish small fishes and fries to make our own aquarium. This was so exciting. Our aquarium was a large glass bottle with a wide mouth (mostly empty Horlicks/Viva jars). I wanted to show my son, how we fished for those small fishes and fries the names of which I knew when I was younger; now I am not so sure.
In villages we have small baskets made of bamboo cane closely knit, with small holes at the bottom used for washing vegetables. Our fishing was using this multipurpose basket. We would tie a piece of cloth on the basket covering the mouth tightly and then make a small hole on one side, large enough for the fishes to slip in. We would then put some cooked rice inside the basket and immerse it in the shallow water, waiting for the fishes to discover bait and get it the basket through the hole. Slowly after sometime, the basket would be filled with many fishes and all you needed to do was to just hold your palm over the hole in the cloth and take the basket out. We could then select the fishes we wanted to keep in our aquarium and let the rest go. Sometimes, we would trade the fishes for glass marbles with the village boys. The colorful glass marbles are a huge fascination for me till date.
This time around when we fished I wondered, were the fishes smart to discover the food through a small hole or foolish to get trapped?