An Unusual Sunday
By Debananndita Ray
Today is 31 October, the last day of the month. As a treat, my grandfather, my mother, and I, all went fishing in our pond. It was at about 11 o’ clock in the morning, and my grandfather prepared a fishing rod with bait, two small hooks, a fishing line, a bamboo stick, and a bob. We brought along a small bucket to hold the fish in. We had pre-booked a ride, and as soon as it arrived, we hopped on and were off to the pool.
It was a sunny day with few clouds in the sky. The sky towered above like a giant, upturned bowl, colored blue. The clouds chased one another high up, propelled by the wind.
There was a narrow route by the side of the pond, and walking down it was a small flight of stairs leading directly into the pond. The flight of stairs had soft, bright green moss on its concrete, on which some snails were clamped onto. There were two concrete seats on the left and right side. My mother kept the bucket and the extra line on them, and stepped down the stairs. As bait, we used a ball of bread, soaked and rolled into a sphere along with a little bit of cardamom for smell. There was a huge mango tree that bent over the steps and over the pond, dipping some of its leaves into the water. In its shade, it was a pleasant sight to view the pond, with its green, rippling cool water which lapped at the grassy banks. My grandfather tore small bits of the ball of bread, and stuck them onto the hooks. He then held the rod taut by pulling the string, and let it go allowing the line to spring forward and land in the water.
Plop! The line sunk in, and the bob dipped into the water. 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and still no fish! Me and my mom had never fished before, and we were losing patience. We were just about to pull the line back in, when the bob started dancing in the water, sending little ripples all over the surface. With a jerk, my grandfather swished the rod in the water, and pulled a little rohu fish in. It flipped and jumped and kicked, but my grandfather held it tight. He bent over and scooped up some pond water in the bucket, and plopped the fish in. The first catch of the day! As the fish lay thundering about in the bucket, my grandfather showed me the correct technique to haul the fish in. ‘Plop, swish, and pull’ he said. Then he handed the rod to me. It took a couple of attempts to get it right, and finally I caught a little silvery-scaled fish whose name I have no idea. It struggled to pull itself free from the line as I dangled it above the bucket. Taking the hook off it’s mouth, I flipped it into the bucket. Two catches until now were not bad, but out of experience, my grandfather told me that we could have caught many more on the sunny side of the pool with less trees. So we trooped back to our ride and enjoyed the short drive over to the other side,
where there was already a group of villagers catching fish. As we arrived, they struck up a competition with us, and proclaimed that the winner would be awarded three fish from the loser’s haul. They too had two fish only, and so the match could be started fair and square. They were all of my age, and thus I was sent along with them to see who was the better fisherman. My mother came along as a referee. My grandfather’s words did prove right, the fish were biting as soon as I dropped the bait in water. It took timing, patience, skill and strength to get the fish above water. The trick was to let the bob go underwater, since it was a clear sign the fish had eaten its fill. I held the rod taut and sprung the line into the water and waited… Then the bob pulled down, and I swung the line in, only to see that the bait had been chomped off. I attached some bait again, and threw the line in. I looked over to the other group, and it seemed that they had already caught two more. I threw the line again as far as I could, and waited. And… the fish bit! I pulled the rod with a neat swish, and pulled the line out. There it was, a fairly sized juvenile rohu. It came flying in the air and thumped on the ground, jumping occasionally. I picked it up and hastily flipped it into the bucket. As I got the hang of it, I began picking pace with the other group. 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 14... I had caught fourteen fish so far in the competition. They, too, were speeding up. I was finally on level with the other group. The time was ending; only seven minutes left. I had only two more pieces of bait left, so my goal was to catch at least two fish with both the baits. I caught one fish with the line attached to its fin! It came rocketing up from the water and slapped my mother in the face with its tail! It was a funny moment, and it lightened the tension of the competition. Three minutes left! Please, I said in my mind, please let me catch just one more fish! ‘Plop, swish, and pull’, I reminded myself. I threw the bait in once again, and since it was the last piece, it was quite big. Plunk! The bait sunk down, and the bob straightened up. I focused on the red top of the bob, and waited to see it go beneath the water’s surface. I waited, and I waited, yet, not a single movement! Just as I was about to pull in, I felt a massive tug at the line made me stumble. I straightened up and pulled at the line with all my strength. The fish swam left and right, but could not free itself. Finally I was able to pull the mischievous little fish out of its hiding place. As I pulled it out, I could no longer call it a ‘little’ fish. This one was a full grown rohu, and of considerable size too.
If it had been of monstrous size, the line would have snapped. I had caught eighteen fishes in thirty minutes from the time I had started, and headed over to the other group with my mother and my bucket, to decide who had won. I set my bucket down, and they peered in. They eyed my prize big rohu with eagerness. Next, I saw what they had caught. They had caught nine little fish and a tiny silvery-scaled one which I had caught before. Clearly, I had won. They grudgingly handed over three fish, and bade us goodbye, with seven in their bucket. Happy, but exhausted, I clambered into the ride with my applauding mother and grandfather and were off to show the twenty-one fish to my grandmother. When I reached home, I immediately fixed a date for the next fishing trip. It had become an addiction, catching fish. I promised to bring back another eighteen fish or more. (and a crab if I could) I went to bed dreaming of the number of fish I was going to catch, but stopped in fear, dreading that they would jump out of my dream and land back into the pond!
By Debananndita Ray