I am enjoying the squash soup, savoring the last mouthful or two, when a fish lands on my spoon. A live fish, no less – and spouting words of wisdom. Honestly, it says there’s no such thing as fish too dumb to distinguish between a fake worm and a live worm. It’s just that only the brave fish are prepared to bite the bait. Coward fish skulk in deep waters, burrowing into mud to hide from humans. Rare is the fish that survives the hook, reaching the table live and whole. A legend, dare I call a specimen like myself. Generations of fish will bow to such legends.
Could I imagine, asks the fish on my spoon, the way blood gushes out of the gullet of fish brave enough to bite the bait? Could I possibly imagine what it feels like? Yet how easily frightened we are, we spoon-wielding lovers of fish. It never fails to astonish the fish kingdom. We, the adventurous, the risk-taking species, eat the flesh of other creatures. Yet we panic when a morsel of meat gets caught in a crack between our teeth. Then we go at it with a toothpick like crazy. Hilarious, really.
If only we humans could be brave, says the fish on my spoon. Brave enough to puncture our gullets and spew blood for the sake of a mere bite of food.
Now just go ahead and chew me up, says the fish in parting. After spitting out my bones, of course.
So saying, it jumps out of the spoon and into my mouth.
Now, why can’t I bring myself to wash that spoon?
Myay Hmone Lwin
Translated from the Burmese by Bon Von & Wendy Law-Yone