#40 The fish and the iceberg

Despite everything we did, we couldn't save the fishes from dying. It was one of the hottest summers in Pondicherry. The weather was so hot fishes started dying of heatstroke. Now when I think about it, they could also have died of shame - for living in an ugly fish tank that had a cheap aluminum frame and dull-looking glass panels.

Even though I had nothing more than a few guppies, goldfishes, and a few other low-budget fish species, I felt proud to be an 8-year old pet owner. The death of the fishes was slowly stripping away that title from me.

At one point there was just one Siamese fighter fish in the tank. The last of the clan. It was breathing under water like it's supposed to. So my parents and I gathered around the dinner table and discussed strategies to keep the fish alive.

My mom told me "Let's make a few blocks of ice and drop it in the tank throughout the day. This way we bring the temperature down and save the fish."

That sounded amazing.

From the next day, my mom would freeze water in a large stainless steel bowl, chip off smaller blocks of ice, and drop it in the fish tank. The fish was happy. I don't know how. I'm just saying it for the sake of the story.

A week later my mom went to get some groceries and my dad was at the office next street. It was hot and the water in the fish tank was warmer than usual. I opened the refrigerator and took the large bowl containing ice. I tried to get a few small blocks of ice by hitting it with a ladle. To my surprise, the entire block of ice came off the bowl instead of a piece.

I carried the big ice block with both hands to the fish tank. My assumption was dropping all of the ice will cool the tank instantly. As I stood next to the tank, my hands went numb. Before I could realize, the ice block fell into the tank with a loud splash and descended onto the fish.

Since then I stay away from the idea of owning pets.

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