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STAR CROSSED LOVERS IN THE BLUE by Tally

© Tally

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1
The Mysterious Pond

Once, in a land called Newada, which lay somewhere in Northern India near Delhi there was a pond full of fish.

The pond was round as many ponds are, but had large and small strips of land in the middle that were exact replicas of the continents, as we know them. So there were two lumpy masses on the western side of the pond that looked like North and South America and there was a huge mass in the middle like Asia and so on. It was a mystery to everyone how the pond and the pieces of land within it came to be shaped in this manner. Due to its uniqueness it was a place of importance frequently visited by scientists as well as Geography school teachers (with their students in tow) who thought a visit to the pond would teach their pupils more about the surface of the earth than days of poring through atlases. Because there were so many visitors, the City Council of Newada had appointed an old fisherman to take care of the pond. He had a small motor boat in which he traveled from one part of the pond to the other removing weeds, feeding the fish and doing various other things that are needed for the maintenance of a pond.

It was a mere pond, but for the fish that lived inside, it represented the whole world, just as for us human beings our earth is the whole word (aside from those of us who go exploring outer space and other planets). The unique shape of this pond and the close resemblance it bore to a geographical depiction of the earth makes it easier for this story to be told – for we shall just pretend that the goldfish who traveled around the pond were traveling around the seas and oceans that form part of our earth. So when in our story we speak of say the Pacific Ocean, we mean only that section of the Newada Pond that resembles that part of the waters that lash in between certain continents, and so on and forth. Our story here in the main concerns the lives of two goldfish lovers called Arj and Utir, who, as you will see, traveled quite a bit in this pond.


***











2
The First Encounter

The pond was a fairly large one and would almost have qualified to be called a lake. No one has ever been able to answer the question as to what is the precise difference between a lake and a pond and the matter seems to have been debated forever. There are ponds that are so small that they are clearly not lakes so the debate really concerns large and very large ponds. The pond in Newada was clearly large enough to be thought of as a lake. The reason the scientists had determined it to be a pond was because they had discovered the presence of goldfish. This was an arbitrary decision in some ways because in this pond lived fish such as dolphins, angelfish, porpoises, crabs and various other creatures found only in the sea and ocean.

Now in this pond the most powerful fish was the goldfish. This was the case despite their small size relative to other larger fishes and sea creatures because they were exceedingly intelligent and had found a way to fashion pebbles and rocks that lay at the bottom of the pond into all kinds of useful implements. There were hammers, sickles, and all kinds of things that were made from pebbles. The pebbles were the raw material from which all these useful implements were fashioned, and goldfish had organized small factories to make useful products from them. A certain kind of black pebble or stone, known as the kanker was even the global currency used in the pond by all water creatures.

A young male goldfish called Arj lived in an area of the pond that resembled the Indian sub-continent and was known as Runwa, mapped out by the town planners into different sections. There was for instance section 37 of Runwa, an upmarket area inhabited mostly by retired army officers, which was where the young Arj lived with his family. Not far away, in section 29, another posh area lived a beautiful young female goldfish called Utir. Both sections might sound quite far away considering the numbers, but this was actually a mistake by the town planners and both sections were actually quite close.

As a result of this proximity it was inevitable that they should encounter each other at some point of time. One day it so happened that Arj was swimming near the banks of the pond studying the green moss, when he decided to swim up to the surface of the water and have a look at Outer Space. Arj had an adventurous soul, and one of his favorite and secret pastimes was to pop up to the surface of the water and have a look at the world outside just for a few minutes. All goldfish were discouraged by their Governments from attempting these kinds of experiments, as there were rumors that some of them had been caught by a strange brown skinned beast that had two large stumps poking out of his stomach instead of gills on the side. Some hoary old goldfish who had seen a lot of life said the beast had the ability to change its color, for in some part of the pond it had been reported to have a brown skin, but in other sightings it had appeared with pink, black and even yellowish skin.

In Arj’s case his curiosity generally won over his fear. On that particular occasion his curiosity was more than rewarded for not only did he get a glimpse of the sky, but as he turned his gaze, he saw Utir nestling in the shallow portion of the pond just near the edge also looking into Outer Space! So, he exclaimed to himself! There were other brave goldfish, even of the female kind, who dared to venture near Outer Space as he did. He saw that Utir’s body was almost but not quite out of the water. He too made sure that his gills remained immersed in water, for that is the breathing apparatus of most fish that are used to draw out oxygen from the water. Yes, for all her feminine ways, Utir too had a bold and adventurous spirit and longed to explore Outer Space. Quite often she would come up to the surface of the water to take a tiny peep at the outside world. It was primarily in order to have a look at the sky and the sun, which all fish talked about, but few dared to see.

Arj had found a kindred spirit at last. Not only was he was impressed with her courage and swimming skills but on that day when he saw her he thought he had seen a phenomenon even more stunning and radiant than the sun he had gone up to see. It was a vision of shining loveliness that set his heart pounding. You see Utir didn't want to get blinded by the sun so with her feminine wisdom she had fashioned a pair of blue goggles out of some leaves taken from the underwater plants and when Arj saw her for the first time she was wearing these shades while enjoying her view of the sun.

When Arj saw Utir wearing those goggles he thought she was the coolest goldfish that he had ever seen in his life. In those days, following a survey carried out by the Runwa Times all the fishes that lived in the region had come to the conclusion – the survey was ranking the top ten sections – that section 37 was one of the best places to live in on account of underground vegetation, clean water, and a host of other indices. The younger goldfish crowd interpreted this finding to mean that there was popular consensus that the ‘coolest’ fishes lived in section 37 of the pond. On that day however Arj was convinced that no fish from section 37 or indeed from anywhere else in the whole of Runwa was a patch on Utir, lying face up in the shallows and gazing at the sun in her blue leaf goggles. She was by far the coolest fish he had ever seen in his life!

He couldn’t see her expressions of course, because her eyes lay hidden behind the blue leaf goggles but if he could have seen them he would have been surprised to see that just as he was awe struck looking at her she too was staring at him unabashedly in a most unfeminine fashion secure in the knowledge that Arj would never know she was staring at him.

When we say that Utir as lying on her back we do not of course mean it literally for fishes do not have a back in the same way as human beings understand it. She was actually moving her gills back and forth and sometimes tilting to one side and sometimes to the other in order to let the sun’s rays caress her whole body.

Her swaying movements mesmerized Arj for it is not easy for fishes to remain afloat and sway in that fashion. He thought it was a pretty neat trick and one he had never seen before. Utir had actually been taught that particular movement and dozens of others by her father Mr Yogi who was very knowledgeable about yoga. It was Mr Yogi who made sure that his only daughter sat with him and did some yogic postures every morning even though it was beyond his powers to convince his wife, Mrs Yogi to take part in the daily yogic exercise ritual.

When Utir stared at Arj she had her mouth open in astonishment but gold fish often have their mouths open even when there is nothing very surprising around them, so Arj did not think that to be of any particular significance (although he did admire her mouth very much).

What she was staring at was actually the little goatee like thing that grew just below his chin, for you see even in goldfish you have many varieties, and Arj came from that stock of goldfish that often joined the army and had this little extra thing just below their chin – just like a beard.

As a matter of fact, Arj’s father Colonel Wara was a retired army officer, and had often tried to convince Arj to join the army straight after school, but our hero had no interest whatsoever in following in his father’s swimming path, as the expression went.

‘There are hardly any wars these days, father,’ he protested, during the course of a discussion on the subject, ‘and it would be just a waste of my talents.’

Colonel Wara had pursed his lips angrily, and would have said something sharp to his son about manliness ( ) but Pushpaji, Arj’s mother had intervened at this juncture with, ‘Oh, do let him be. I’m sure he plans on becoming a great journalist, don’t you Arj? That’s why you’re studying literature, aren’t you?’

‘Yes, indeed, mother,’ Arj had responded, though he wasn’t quite sure if a career in journalism was what he wanted, at least in so far as traditional journalism was concerned.

Colonel Wara was not very happy with this decision, but he did not want to pressurize his son any further. He could not however stop himself from remarking in an annoyed tone, ‘Well, if you want to be a pen pusher, I won’t stop you,’ for journalists were not thought of very highly among the military circles. And then the father had fallen silent and hoped internally that it was not cowardice that influenced his son’s decision not to join the army.

To get back to the first encounter between Arj and Utir, when Utir first saw him she thought that that goatee was the cutest thing she had ever seen. To see it swaying in the currents of the pond set her heart all aflutter and while she pretended to look at the sun she actually tilted her eyes sideways in order to gaze at Arj. For his part, when Arj took his attention away momentarily from the spectacle of the blue goggles that so suited Utir, his eyes then fell on the luminous quality of her skin for while all gold fish have glowing skin – and that’s why they are indeed called goldfish – hers was of a very special kind. It shone so brightly that it could be seen a mile away.

And so they saw each other and liked each other but they didn’t speak a word to each other and it was not for want of wanting to do so but because they were both too overcome by emotion and didn’t know what stupid thing they might say that might offend the other.

When Arj dived back into the water that day it was with the realization that this was the fish with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. He decided that he would somehow begin a conversation with Utir the next time he came across her while swimming underwater on the main highway that connected section 37 of the pond with section 29.

The next few days he bunked college and waited behind the underwater plants near the junction which separated section 37 from section 29 but he couldn’t spot Utir anywhere. It was difficult not to tell anyone about the new love in his life, but Arj was a very private person. He did however confide in Popa, a female who studied literature with him at College. Popa and he were very good friends. She was the daughter of the Proprietor of the Runwa Times, the largest selling newspaper in the region, and would join her father’s paper after finishing her studies. By now Arj had decided on becoming a journalist although he had very little interest in politics – his interests lay more in exploring different regions of the world and seeing how different fish culture was in different places.

He waited for Utir each day in the evening and after what seemed like ages he did not have to wait anymore.
* * *








3

Falling in Love

Finally the day came when Arj who had been waiting next to a popular pathway where the currents made it easier to swim behind some underwater bushes suddenly saw that special glowing skin wade through the waters at a distance. He quickly emerged from behind the bushes and came on to the pathway and smiled at her, his eyes telling her what she wanted to hear.

‘Hello there,’ she said smiling sweetly. ‘Are you visiting someone is section 29?’

‘Oh, no,’ he said quickly. ‘I’m swimming in these parts only because there is a better quality of weed that grows here. You see my mother had asked me to pluck some for the evening meal.’

And Utir saw through the pretence and secretly smiled but nevertheless nodded vehemently in agreement. Yes, she said, indeed the weed that was found in section 29 was by far the best to be found in the whole of Runwa.

‘I saw you looking at the sky and sun the other day,’ said Arj by way of further conversation. ‘That was very brave of you.’

‘And I saw you doing the same thing,’ said Utir smiling, ‘but seeing as it’s discouraged by the Government and all the older people being of those rumours of the brown beast, let’s not tell anyone.’ She put her fin on top of Arj’s fin in mock solidarity. ‘It will be just our little secret, what do you say?’ Arj nodded, his heartbeat racing at this intimate encounter that he had been waiting for all these days.

And so the ice was broken that day and thereafter they would stop and chat with each other almost every day.

Arj was studying world literature at University. He had high grades in script writing and prose but didn’t do so well in poetry. Utir on the other hand enjoyed taking care of people and was studying to be a health care worker. She did well in all the subjects except for terminology where she sometimes mixed the meaning of one word for another – and this could be dangerous not only for her when she wrote her exams but much more so for her patients were she ever to prescribe medicines for their ailments. Most words could be broken down into simpler units in the language spoken in Runwa and Arj knew how to do this. He taught Utir how to break down complex words into simpler ones and how to derive their meaning in this fashion. Utir’s grades went up immediately in the paper on Medical Terminology, so much so that her professors commented on her remarkable achievement.

‘It is all thanks to you,’ she told Arj, ‘otherwise God alone knows how many patients of mine would have to suffer!’

Arj laughed happily.

‘You too have helped me Utir,’ he said. ‘My poetry grades have rocketed up.’

‘And how have I helped you there?’ asked Utir.

‘You have created poetry in my heart,’ said Arj, ‘and this was missing before I met you. Now I can understand poetry and write it too.’ And he began to write poems on Utir.

He would write a poem about her every week and Utir would wait patiently to read it. Sometimes he wrote about her eyes, sometimes about her glowing skin and sometimes about the fragrance she exuded. There was no limit to his invention it seemed.

Utir did so well in her exams – especially the paper on medical terminology – that she managed to get admitted to a highly rated course on preventive medicine. World famous Dr Phopha who was known to accept only a handful of student taught this subject. He was the creator of two famous vaccines that had helped control disease amongst the goldfish community for which he had been awarded the Gobble Prize.

As time passed they came to know and understand each other’s minds and their love blossomed. Goldfish like other underwater creatures have found ways of communicating with each other. The goldfish in the pond spoke a common language, but there were different dialects as well as different accents in different regions within the pond. In the case of Arj and Utir, their minds were so much in tune with each other that it sometimes came to the point when they would not even need to speak to each other in order to make the other understand what they wanted to say. Sometimes they would not even need to be with each to know what the other was thinking or feeling. Once Utir had sprained her back, while lifting a heavy object in her house in section 29 and sitting far away in section 37 Arj suddenly imagined that his beloved was not well and he immediately went off in search of her and found that it was so. On her part, once Arj did not meet her for two whole days and Utir immediately guessed that it was because he had taken up temporary employment at the seashell-polishing factory to save up enough money to buy her a birthday present.

Their love grew to the point that they could not spend even a day away from each other. Arj especially could not bear to be separated from Utir, so when she had to go away for a few days with her parents to attend her cousin’s wedding in the Badkal stream near section 94 of the Runwa region, he was miserable.

‘It’s only a short visit,’ consoled Utir, ‘and this is a very important wedding in the family. I have to be there.’ She paused, and took out a packet kept beneath one of her fins. ‘I’ve brought something for you to remember me by, if you miss me too much.’

It was a silver colored locket. Arj was delighted to see that there was a picture of Utir inside the locket.
‘Oh, this is lovely,’ he said. ‘I will keep it around my neck for as long as I live.’

Utir had not yet told her parents about Arj, so there was no question of his being invited to the wedding. And while a large, grand wedding had been planned befitting Mr Dooda’s status, it so happened that Arj’s parents did not know Utir’s parents, and so he and his family had not been invited to grace the occasion.

When Utir saw how sad Arj looked at the thought of her impending departure, even if for a short while, she leant across and gave him a light kiss on his lips and then before he had time to react, she swam away shouting, ‘Bye, Arj. See you in a few days.’

Arj didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The kiss was tantalizing and much better than anything he had fantasized about. He longed to have Utir close to him and kiss her once again on that mouth he had admired so much when he had first seen her but she had gone off and he would have to wait for her return. Only, he determined that when he kissed her it would not be a fleeting and flitting off kind of kiss that she had just now given him but it would a long and loving kiss, one that would smash all previous records.

There are few fish in the ocean who like to kiss but they do exist. Notable among them is the Kisser from Thailand, but there this kiss takes place between fish of the same sex and is a mark of aggression and not affection. The goldfish in the Newada pond were different from goldfish found elsewhere, who do not like even to be touched, not to speak of kissing. Goldfish in this pond were like humans. They liked to touch, to cuddle and to kiss. The kiss for them was a mark of affection, and possibly romantic love as is the case with humans.

Did you know that goldfish can kiss each other for far far longer than any man or woman? The reason is simple and you will discover it easily if you apply your mind to it, but let me tell you the reason if you have not guessed it already. You see goldfish don’t breathe through their noses or mouths but through their fins and therefore they don’t get all breathless while they are kissing because they continue to breathe through their fins.

Arj still felt quite breathless though, and he didn’t know why. He decided that when Utir returned he would immediately propose to her, and if she agreed (which he hoped and prayed fervently that she would) he would at once approach her father, Mr Yogi and ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

They had only just finished with their final exams in college. Although Arj was unemployed for the time being he was confident that he could pick up a job as a reporter for a newspaper in Runwa. Perhaps he could request his good friend Popa to put in a good word for him with her father, the proprietor of the famous Runwa Times.

* * *

4
A Wedding in the Family

Utir on her part was also sad to be parted from Arj even for a few days but while she loved Arj, this was a very important family occasion that had been planned for months. She did enjoy the festive atmosphere at weddings. As a close relative of the groom-to-be she soon become involved in all the various ceremonies that normally attend goldfish weddings. This was no ordinary wedding as it was her cousin Yaja - for her almost like a real brother – who was getting married to Moksha, the only daughter of the super rich Dooda family. Yaja was the son of her uncle, her father’s brother, who had died in a fishing accident (he had nibbled on a line thrown out by a fisherman and had been caught) and had been brought up by Utir’s father, Mr Yogi as his own son.

The Dooda family controlled vast amounts of the Atlantic Ocean near Cuba. It was said that they were so wealthy that they could have bought all the gold possessed by the goldfish in Newada without so much as feeling the pinch. It was assumed by all that after his marriage Yaja being the son-in-law would join the Doodas in the family business or businesses to be more exact for it was a vast industrial empire that they controlled.

When Utir busied herself helping out in the arrangements she was noticed by many of the families present in the gathering as a potential bride for their sons. Utir’s parents, being of a liberal mindset, had however told her that she was free to make her own choice in the matter, and for Utir there was no one else in the big wide world except for Arj now that they had confessed their love to each other.

It was not only the invited families from Runwa who thought that Utir would make a good bride for their son, but also those who had come all the way from the fish colony on the Atlantic Ocean near Cuba, for it was known by goldfish all over the world that the young ladies from Runwa, while independent minded were also faithful, sincere and loving. Female goldfish were often ‘fast’ in certain parts of the word and went through several partners in the space of a few years, but marriages in Runwa and those of foreign male goldfish with female goldfish from Runwa endured. It was widely believed that this was on account of the fact that the family values and culture prevalent in Runwa were such that it produced sincere females that made excellent wives.

Among those who saw Utir were the parents of the bride to be Moksha, Mr and Mrs Dooda. For some time now they had been looking for a bride for their only son Adad, sole heir to the family fortunes.

From the point of view of selecting a bride for her son, Mrs Dooda noticed Utir early on. Excited at the thought that she could be ‘the one’, she swarm across to her husband who was surrounded by a host of relatives and whispered in his ear that in the gathering she had tentatively identified her as the most suitable one for their Adad. Mr Dooda studied Utir carefully over the next half hour, for being a seasoned businessman he was not one to take decisions in haste, but finally he beckoned his wife and nodded his approval. There was a queenly grace about Utir that came from her behavior; her glowing skin further accentuated that aspect of her personality.

‘She is so graceful yet commanding in whatever she does,’ Mr Dooda remarked to his wife, after he had taken her to a corner to discuss the issue privately.

‘She’d be perfect for our family,’ gushed Mrs Dooda.

‘We need someone like her to bring Adad back on track,’ Mr Dooda whispered back to his wife. ‘If Adad consents to this marriage, I will feel rested in my mind and leave him to handle all the business affairs.’

Adad was different from all other goldfish being a rarity as he had been born with two heads. For some time a factory managed by humans had been dumping all kinds of chemicals near a bushi plantation, and Ms Dooda had unfortunately nibbled some of that bushi during her pregnancy; it may have been the reason why Mrs Dooda had given birth to a goldfish with two heads. Be that as it may, Adad was the only male heir to the Dooda fortune, and was therefore considered to be a great ‘catch’ from any point of view. Some female goldfish fancied him even more because of his two heads because they speculated that he would be twice as loving and twice as intelligent as any ordinary goldfish.

What they, and the other goldfish, including Mr and Mrs Dooda didn’t know was that the Adad’s two heads did not work as one head with the capacity of two but rather as two heads that often disagreed on what Adad should do. There was a Simple Head and there was a Crafty Head. Simple Head was loving but not very intelligent while Crafty Head was intelligent and far from loving. For years now Crafty Head had been dictating all of Adad’s actions. He had cut back on the salaries of the poor goldfish who worked in his father’s factories, he had made love to the poor little female goldfish who worked in his fathers factories and then cast them aside and worst of all he had actually eaten prawns! Goldfish in the Newada prawn are mostly vegetarian but a few have taken to eating tadpoles and snails but the eating of other fish was not considered acceptable. Eating prawns was a total taboo even though it was rumored that prawns was among the tastiest food to be found anywhere.

Mr and Mrs Dooda had come to know of their son’s carnivorous activities through an old factory manager who could not bear to see their son go astray. Mr Dooda had angrily summoned his son and asked for an explanation. Crafty Head did what he normally did on such occasions. He woke up Simple Head and went to sleep himself. When Simple Head came up before his father, he received an angry shouting about his actions such that he had never before witnessed. Quite bewildered with the accusation, the poor fellow had tried to defend himself by saying that Crafty must have been responsible.

‘I am not impressed,’ bellowed Mr Dooda. ‘Please don’t make these lame excuses. Let me tell you in plain terms, Adad, that this is the very last warning and if you do not mend your ways soon, even if you are my only son, I will disown and completely disinherit you.’

Mr Dooda’s angry tirade left Simple Head shaking with fear and worry. After his son had meekly withdrawn the father had rubbed his forehead in anxiety and wondered where he and Mrs Dooda had gone wrong as parents. He discussed the situation with his wife that night.

‘I think our son has reached an awkward age,’ said Mrs Dooda soothingly, and he might do odd things on and off.’

‘Odd things?’ said Mr Dooda, flapping his fin in consternation. ‘This isn’t odd. It is positively dangerous. Our reputation will be mud, if the word spreads around that Adad has been eating his own kind.’

‘I tell you,’ said Mrs Dooda, ‘the best solution is to find him a nice young pretty goldfish to be his wife.’

‘She needs to be someone with a head on her shoulders,’ said Mr Dooda gruffly, ‘if she is to straighten him out.’

‘We are going to Runwa next month for Moksha’s wedding, aren’t we?’ she told her husband. ‘Let’s keep our eyes peeled out for a suitable female for Adad. There are sure to be so many nice young females at the wedding. As you know the females from Runwa are the best in the world.’

You may be wondering why Mr and Mrs Dooda didn’t at once think of Utir at this point of time? The reason for this was that they hadn’t actually seen or met Utir. They had met Mr and Mrs Yogi and their son at a goldfish wedding six months previously in Runwa. On that occasion Yaja and Moksha had got talking to each other and had formed a liking for each other. Mr and Mrs Dooda saw their growing friendship and after ascertaining their daughter’s wishes had approached Mr and Mrs Yogi who had been overjoyed at receiving a proposal from so eminent a family. Utir had not attended that particular wedding, and stayed behind at home to study as she had her exams and the Doodas had therefore never set their eyes upon her.

And so it was only on this occasion that the Doodas saw Utir. Both were delighted to imagine that she could be their daughter-in-law. Indeed there was not a female goldfish in that gathering who was a patch of Utir, her always luminous skin glowing even more than usual, partly on account of the excitement of the occasion but also because somewhere in her heart as she rushed about looking after the guests she couldn’t help fantasizing or dreaming about her own wedding – with Arj.

Meanwhile the Doodas immediately summoned Adad to know his views on the matter for while they wanted to have him ‘settled’ as the expression went in goldfish circles, they were nonetheless free thinking broad-minded parents who did not wish to impose their own wishes and preferences onto their son.

Now it so happened that unlike Utir, Crafty Head found weddings to be a big bore and he therefore preferred to sleep on such occasions and let Simple Head be present. So when Adad appeared before his parents it was with Crafty Head sleeping and Simple Head awake.

Simple Head was simple but not simple enough not to have noticed Utir’s charms. Indeed any fish would have had to be blind not to have noticed how lovely she was. He thought she was the loveliest fish he had ever seen. The poor fish suffered from low self-esteem however and did not imagine that he had any chances of attracting one so resplendent, but he summoned all his courage and decided to go up to her and introduce himself. Utir liked Simple Head’s simple demeanor when he came up to her and, his heart hammering away, mouthed a greeting, but she couldn’t help thinking that he was a bit of a dummy for he didn’t have very much to say after their first exchange of greetings. All the same she couldn’t help being impressed that the sole heir to the Dooda fortune had such a simple nature.

When Mr and Mrs Dooda asked Simple Head if he would like to marry Utir, his eyes nearly popped out and he let out a low squeal of delight, which Mrs Dooda correctly interpreted to mean that there lay no doubt as to his consent in the matter.

Mr Dooda was very pleased and a little bit surprised that matter had gone off so smoothly and that his son had not offered any resistance to their proposal. ‘After all, he knows we are his parents,’ he told himself, ‘and if he is willing to get married, this means that he is willing to reform and improve himself.’

All that remained now was for the Doodas to have a few words with Mr and Mrs Yogi. It was best that the ladies initiated the process, thought Mr Dooda and so he whispered in his wife’s ear that now was as good a time as any. Mrs Dooda went rushing about trying to locate Mrs Yogi. She had to wade through many guests who wanted a word with her but she made her way ahead relentlessly. She moved quickly while retaining her dignity, politely gesturing to Mrs Mackerel, Mrs Rohu and other senior house-fishes that wished to talk to her, all for the sake of being able to tell the other house-fishes at the monthly kitty party held in section 29 of the Newada pond that they had actually spoken to Mrs Dooda the wife of the billionaire Mr Dooda. Eventually she found Mrs Yogi in the kitchen supervising the dinner arrangements.

She took Mrs Yogi aside for a moment and told her what she and her husband had in mind. Mrs Yogi couldn’t believe that she had understood Mrs Dooda correctly and asked her to repeat her words. Reassured that she had not heard her incorrectly she took her leave of Mrs Dooda (who was at once cornered by Mrs Catfish and Mrs Salmon of the Section 37 monthly kitty party, archrivals to Mrs Sardine and Mrs Rohu) and telling the cook to manage as best he could she rushed off in search of Mr Yogi and their daughter Utir.

Mrs Yogi grabbed Mr Yogi’s arm and took him away from a group of youngsters to whom he was explaining the benefits of yoga. Mr Yogi normally very calm was nevertheless provoked sufficiently to voice his anger at this unseemly interruption, but he became quiet when Mrs Yogi whispered the news in his ear. Next, both parents grabbed hold of Utir who was busy serving some of the guests and took her aside.

When they explained to Utir how lucky she was that the famous Dooda family had sought her hand in marriage, her heart sank.

‘I cannot marry that fellow,’ she said. ‘Papa, Mama, I love another goldfish from Runwa itself.’

‘Since when has this been going on?’ said Mrs Yogi angrily. ‘You know the females from Runwa are not supposed to fall in love.’

‘Who is the goldfish?’ Mr Yogi wanted to know.

‘Is it that dreamy eyed goldfish with the goatee?’ said Mrs Yogi, for she had seen her daughter with Arj a few times, when after classes, Arj had swum with her back to her house, before going home.

Utir nodded tearfully.

‘Has he proposed marriage to you thus far?’ asked Mr Yogi.

‘Not so far, Papa,’ said Utir shaking her head, ‘but I’m sure he will.’

‘My dear,’ said Mr Yogi. ‘Do you realize what you are passing up?’

‘I love him, Papa,’ wailed Utir.

‘All right! All right!’ said Mr Yogi unhappily. He thought for a few minutes and then turned to Mrs Yogi. ‘My dear, why don’t you break the news to Mrs and Mr Dooda and let us know how they take it? We will wait for you here?’

Mrs Yogi bustled away her eyes full of anxiety and anger. What a silly goldfish her daughter was to pass up such an opportunity? And all for an unemployed goldfish with a goatee. As she neared Mrs Dooda and saw how happy Yaja’s mother-in-law to be looked, her heart sank and she lost her nerve. She grabbed a piece of seaweed known for its sophoric qualities from a passing waitress and chewed upon it vigorously. She looked back to see Mr Yogi chatting away happily with his daughter oblivious to how he had turned away such a great opportunity. Neither of them was looking in her direction. No, she gritted her teeth, she would not let this happen! She made a quick about turn and began swimming back to her husband and daughter.



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