fishing and the cow dung bath!
Kendagaljaddi is a beautiful small village on the lap of Western ghats in Kumta. Yes , it is another kids-swim-in-water story or kids-fishing-in-lake story but I promise you it is going to be different. These boys Prajwal,Subramanya, Lokesh and Rohith wanted to catch some fishes for their self made aquarium something similar I did when I was child.
Being from a very strict Havyaka brahmin family ,we never supposed to touch fishes! If we touch , we were often told that we will be forced to bath with cow dung to get cleansed . But how is it possible to escape from the surrounding nature and the very typical childhood trends!
So we never cared.
Whenever there was less water in the stream , we would trap those poor hungry fishes throwing some food. We would splash them along with the water to the ground . We used our sisters to alert us if our elders came looking for us.
I still cannot forget that one incident when I was made to bath with cow dung after caught red handed
It was a hot summer and the stream got almost dry. We could see fishes were dying and gathering in a small places water was there. It was piece of cake to catch them in that situation. We put them in the small pits with some water that we dug beside the stream. As usual we started catching the fishes but did not realize my aunt was standing behind the bushes and watching us.
we were taken to the bathroom and were ordered to rub fresh cow dung all over our body. I was almost in tears out of shame. I was also scared what would happen when dad comes in the evening. That afternoon was a fearful and awkward afternoon with our heads down. Dad came and was told about the incident but was silent for sometime. Then he spoke up.
“ you already received a punishment which was well deserved. Don’t repeat this ever again “
But I was justifying in my mind that we were punished for trying to save the fishes.
he continued as if he read my mind!
“ Today what you did may be a good deed but I have been watching you kids from many days. You are playing with those poor creatures. It may be fun for you but try to imagine how cruel it is for them when you splash them on to the ground and they suffocate . We should not hurt any creature “
I was bit shocked when he said he was watching us from many days.Why didn’t he stop us ? or punish us ? And now when my aunt caught us , he was behaving like a saint!
Well, I am not going to tell you that his words ‘opened my eyes’ and I stopped catching the fishes later on . We never stopped after that incident but we were more careful.
But later when I went to college and I was fighting with my own thoughts on vegetarianism that my family followed, dad’s words helped me more than any text book knowledge. I won many debates using the same words when people laughed at my strict vegetarianism.
But now here I am , nearing forty ,a thinking beast , I agree that pure vegetarianism is just impossible concept. Everyday we use products that are made by hurting creatures , hurting nature around us.
Anyways , back to story where I started ….
As the young boys continued fishing and dancing in the stream, I knew they were hurting those poor little fishes. This was the right time for my ego to kick in and behave exactly like my dad. But I don’t know why , I did not say a word. I just watched them, watched their activity, watched the most beautiful thing called “ childhood” .
I realize now , after coming back, sipping my coffee , why dad didn’t stop us on that day. he was probably watching silently the ‘ childhood ’, just like I watched these kids.