Short story – An Aquarium Mesh

Everytime as Misha stepped into the office corridor, she could not help but glance in the direction of the aquarium that flashed an array of orange gold-fishes and black mollies, swimming to and fro. With its colourful, eye-catching incumbents and exotic aqua scape, the aquarium exhibited life and liveliness inside that dull working environment.

Her employer loved them and could never imagine his office without one. In fact he wanted an another huge one inside his cabin, covering an entire wall. Personally Misha would never care about such things. Besides, being religiously vegetarian since birth, she had no knowledge about them whatsoever. However, for the first time in her life, the orange-gold fishes and the black mollies did fascinate her into attention.

So whenever she needed a break, she began spending a little bit of her time standing near the fish-tank and watching their activities, for when she did that, she found them no different from the helpless toddler, she had left behind at home. She even began placing a finger on the glass to test the reaction of the fishes and was thrilled to see them responding by trying to nibble it from inside of the glass. This went on for some days. Slowly, after sometime, she decided to try feeding them. The office assistant, who knew a lot about fishes, guided her but at the same time attempted to dissuade her into feeding, saying that their food smelled awful (processed germ balls) which probably she wouldn’t be able to bear. But Misha didn’t mind as long as she was only feeding the poor souls. He further warned her not to over feed them since they could possibly die.

For some months, out of kindness and concern, Misha went about diligently putting a little fish food into the aquarium at regular intervals, without fail. She would even play with them by teasing them with her finger. With time, she even felt as if the fishes had got acquainted with her and could also recognise her, for whenever she came near the aquarium, some of them began mobbing and pouting towards her, as if calling her out to give food. She understood she had become familiar to them, besides knowing what to expect when she came around. However, the office assistant would sometimes prevent her from giving them any, in case they were already fed, since over-feeding could kill them. Remembering her own child at home she would feel sorry for the fishes.

Once the fishes had to remain unfed for four days, since their food supplies in the office, had got exhausted. Though the office assistant assured her that no harm would come to the fishes that would remain perfectly fine, Misha felt concerned. Next day when the food arrived, she went about her ritual of dispensing the same into the tank, when the lid of the food container suddenly gave away. Roughly, half the jar got emptied into the tank. A horde of fishes burst upon the supply while the concerned office staff, quickly went about the arrangements to extricate the fishes therefrom and clean the tank of the excess food, since it could kill them. However, it appeared that it had got too late, for one black molly had begun to bulge and so did the eyes of a few gold fishes. Concern rose among the staff. All the fishes were quickly transferred to another bowl while the staff set about cleaning the tank. The black molly was placed in a separate water bowl alone, to provide it with the necessary time and space to recover, if possible.

Each passing minute made Misha feel extremely sorry and guilt-ridden as she prayed for each one of them to survive. But the black molly couldn’t sustain. Misha felt as if she had ended up killing her child with her over-driven maternal instincts. In her mind, She yearned and begged for forgiveness, though she had only meant well and vowed never to venture into things that are not her cup of tea, especially the implications of which she may not be able to handle later.

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