Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Of lost souls swimming in a fishbowl

Guppy was. Actually, I should say Guppy was happy, but Guppy was a fish, and fishes do not have a perception of happiness, or any sort of emotion for that matter, and therefore, Guppy simply was. Guppy was in a large pond filled with lots of other fishes and other forms of marine ecosystems. Guppy swam and swam in lots of pointless circles and ate when he ate and slept when he slept, although he slept with his eyes open since fishes don’t have eyelids and no one can tell if a fish is asleep unless you poke it with your index finger and it wakes up and swims off into lots and lots of pointless circles again. Guppy was definitely a he, and this we could be sure of because he didn’t think too much, unlike the other fishes who thought too much and started putting powdered-valium on their seaweed. Also, these other fishes laid eggs and sometimes thought their bums were too big.

Guppy was a fish of simple pleasures. He liked the sun. He liked the sea. He liked the other fishes. And most of all, he liked pointless circles, which he swam in swishing his tailfin this way and that. Life was good, and Guppy was.

One day, a large net lowered into the water and fished Guppy out. The net was attached to a large manhand and the large manhand was attached to a small plastic bag of water into which Guppy went. He swam and swam in smaller pointlesser circles till he was transferred again by the large manhand holding the large net into a slightly larger rectangular apparatus. Since Guppy was a fish, he had no concept of space or dimensions and continued to swim in pointless circles inside the rectangular tank with many different coloured fishes, fishes he’d never seen before, and lots of funny looking plants and a small scary thing near the floor that kept blowing bubbles and didn’t seem to want to be his friend, although Guppy tried.

Guppy no longer found strange and interesting coloured plants to eat. He found strange and interesting little tiny balls bobbing on the surface of the water, and he ate them, because fishes don’t have mothers who pinch their ears for putting everything they find into their mouths. The tiny balls made him happy and so Guppy was. He forgot about the plants, and he forgot about the net and he forgot about everything except the little balls that floated down every day. Guppy swam in lots and lots of pointless circles bumping into other fishes on the way. He tried to make friends but sometimes the others fishes would be here and sometimes they would not and there would be new fishes and this would all be very confusing for Guppy if he could think about it, but he couldn’t and so Guppy kept swimming in his pointless circles bumping into all the other fishes. He bumped into them because this tank was a little crowded and his old place was not so crowded, but Guppy had no perception of time or self-awareness to understand and compare his former state of being with his present condition. Therefore, Guppy simply was.

One day a large manhand attached to a small net lowered itself into the tank and fished out a fish and Guppy found himself in a small glass bowl, only he did not know it was a glass bowl because he was inside it and moreover because he was a fish of (comparatively) limited intelligence. Soon all the shaking and moving around stopped, and Guppy was once more swimming in lots and lots of smaller pointless circles. This new place had no plants. And it had no other fishes. And it didn’t even have the scary thing with the bubble in the bottom. Guppy swam and swam in circles till he saw the familiar little balls bobbing on the surface. He swam up and ate the little balls and soon he was full and he was feeling.

Day turned into night and night turned into day and sometimes when the mandhands drew the curtains there would be evening or dawn or some other hour of the day that was marked, sliced and measured in the continuum of experience of higher beings. But Guppy simply swam and swam, in small circles almost chasing his tail because the bowl was so small, only he didn’t know it was so small, he only knew that he was, and that sometimes there would be the little balls and then he would eat and then he would be. But time went on, and with the passage of time, Guppy began to act strange. He would do what other fishes wouldn’t do. He would stare at the surface of the water for hours. He would bump his nose against the glass of the bowl and do it again and again in a circle till he got back to where he started from. He had nothing to do, except swim in lots and lots of pointless circles.

One day he stopped swimming in circles and went to investigate the bottom of the bowl. Only, Guppy was a fish and therefore did not know he was in a bowl or conducting an investigation. He poked his nose around the bottom, and lay there for a long while, till the tiny balls appeared again at the surface of the water. Sometimes he leapt to where he knew the tiny balls would come from. He wondered what was outside. He wondered about the balls and how they made him feel. He wondered if being ontheotherside would make him feel like he felt after he ate the tiny balls. For the first time, Guppy wondered, although fishes don’t wonder or think or pontificate, but this only went to show Guppy was a special kind of fish.

Guppy lay at the bottom of the bowl more and more and thought about the tiny balls and the manhand and the large net. He thought about the bowl and the water and the surface. He thought about the bottom and the top and the sides. He thought about the inside and the outside. He wondered if he was and he wondered what it was like to be not. Guppy lay in the bottom of the bowl for hours thinking and thinking. The manhands would poke him to make him move but Guppy was. The tiny balls would float on the surface and crowd the little opening to the jar, but Guppy was.

Finally, one day, a large manhand reached into the bowl and fished out the fish and threw it outside to make way for a new fish that came in a plastic bag attached to a manhand. 

Guppy lay on the grass, but he did not know it was grass. He saw the sun shine above, but he did not know it was shining. All he thought of was the tiny balls, millions and millions of strange and interesting tiny balls and the bright shining light moving towards him, and he knew that beyond the light he would find the tiny balls waiting for him… if he could just get ontheotherside. 


Ashok said...

Poor Guppy. But I shouldn't be feeling sad because he anyway doesn't have emotions etc. And I'm not member of PETA etc so I'm letting go of all the disrespectful 'things' you said about the beautiful brainy smart fishes.

P.S.:I too sometimes feel like a fish stuck in a glass bowl.

Amrut said...

Guppiti guppiti gup gup

Sandhya M said...

"He wondered if he was and he wondered what it was like to be not."

Imagining what it is like to be not is too much even for human beings! In imagining what it is like to be dead, we inevitably appeal to our own background of conscious experience. Death, however is not "like" anything we have experienced. Thus, even our best simulation of nothingness just isn't good enough. Life after death and souls continuing to live makes it all a little easier..doesn't it?

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