Dorothy

By , Grand Haven, MI
A soap opera of the fittest, full of love, heartbreak, misery, and the works!

Fall of 2002. That was when I got her. That was when it all started…

Like I mentioned earlier it was the early autumn of 2002 although the date I can’t seem to recall (no I am not a walking calendar). My family had returned from a trip. For three months, we had stayed in India, visiting friends, family, and sightseeing. My dad had returned 1 month prior to my mom’s, my brother’s, and mine. In that month, my dad had taken the time to set up an aquarium. A freshwater aquarium of course. I highly doubt we could have successfully managed the hassle of a saltwater one. It was a large aquarium, it’s bottom carpeted with an assortment of colored pebbles. There were many colorful shells and stones. On one side there was a structure with holes and gaps that a fish could enter and exit. I was so exited, even my dreams were filled with goldfishes and aquariums.

A day after our return, my dad and I drove to Meijer and moseyed on over to the pet aisle. My eyes scanned the colorful fish darting back and forth, but what really hooked my fancy were the goldfish. So magestic. Not a care in the world. The jolliest creatures I ever saw. Yes, they might have not been the speediest, but they had the biggest heart. For them every glub of water and every flake of food was the best. We purchased two goldfish, one the color of a silver bullet, the other with hues of a setting sun. The silver bullet who was named Shiny was a bundle of energy. The sunset, who we named Dorothy (modeled after Elmo’s scaly pal) hastened not to the prospect of blindly swimming through the unknown crystal clear waters of her new tank.

“You made a good choice of those goldfish”, chimed my mom and my brother. I was so proud of my little friends. Even through the bliss I was feeling at the time, I didn’t think once whether they could provide lasting satisfaction. I was young. Give me a break. That’s the thing about youth. Youth is the cradle of ignorance. Your view of the world is that everything is going to last forever. But it is only old age that dawns on you the truth that nothing lasts forever. But lets not peruse every topic possible in one paragraph, shall we?

Within two weeks, Dorothy and Shiny became formally acquainted. Both of the fish adored each other, but they had opposite personalities. This made for some mood ripples. It was all playful though. It’s easy to tell these things if you are seeing. Not just looking. But imagine that. Mood ripples in one tank. And not even humans. Fish for crying out loud!

A couple of months later my dad conjured a sudden maniacal urge to build a pond, envisioning a fish paradise.
“Varun, we must build a pond”, he said.
“Ummmmm… Okay?”, I naively replied.
“ You both are bonkers!”, chimed in my mom.
This was an under analyzed plan as we soon realized. Our pond, lying down the







The chills and winds of autumn have once again arrived. The mulberry tree stands alone, deprived of the comforts of a two fish pond, and replaced by the emptiness of a ground carpeted with wood chips. The fish are back in their tank and have passed on some of their personalities to each other.




It is the spring of 2004 tragedy strikes. Shiny is no more. The once exciting and vibrant tank has now succumbed to the depths of adamence and misery. The mood ripples have also receded from the aquarium. Shiny’s corpse now lies in his metallic catacomb (a tinfoil fish burrito to be precise) beside the sage wisdom of the mulberry tree. Dorothy’s world is an empty hole. It is as if she is numb with sorrow and regret. For weeks, Dorothy mopes around the tank silently avoiding Shiny’s favorite shell. The pink and yellow one, with the ridged texture. The one he would always rest in. Every moment, I think that her thoughts revolve around her beloved Shiny. I felt so confused at that time, having not the slightest notion on what could possibly perk her up. But alas, I can’t read peoples minds, much less a mind of a goldfish.

Finally, my dad and I suddenly became aware of the longing in that sad little tank. From Meijer, we purchased two gouramis. These fish were striped a dull blue and grey. In front of each gill protruded a finger length feeler. At the time, we envisioned a change in Dorothy’s moods. But later it distraught me that in my haste, I never took a moment to sit and contemplate my decision. Would putting the gourami’s in the same aquarium manifest as a living reminder of Dorothy’s pain and anguish of having the only love of her life depart from her very eyes?

I must apologize for this unexpected digression, but I felt it was was necessary to say my thoughts as well ( yes, I am aware of my vast selfishness). Anyways, rest assured reader, Dorothy found the courage and mustered the will within herself to let go of her sorrow. Of course, I doubt she ever forgot about Shiny. Dorothy merely moved on with her goldfish life. The gouramis did seem to irritate her at times, but I think that their company gave life a new meaning for her. We never got around to naming the gouramis. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was because they were just bought as a way to cheer Dorothy up.

It was late on a spring night when Dorothy left this Earth. She had grown to about four inches and lived about four years. Her passing had bought tears into my eyes. I wish I had appreciated her more. I wish for one more chance to gaze at her brilliant orange scales. But long gone are those times. Dorothy now lays in her metallic catacomb ( once again, a tinfoil fish burrito) in the same backyard as Shiny.

I must conclude this tale in a haste. There are not many ways to describe the feelings of love, loss, and misery. If anyone had such authority to do so, it would be Dorothy.I cannot say whether Dorothy left this Earth peacefully or not , but I will assert myself when I say that Dorothy led a fine life. OK, maybe her life was scarred with heartbreak and longing, but without getting a taste of heartbreak and longing, would joy feel as joyous or would love feel as lovely?
In the three years since Dorothy’s passing, I have purchased several goldfish. None of them lasted for long though. Never will there be a better goldish than Dorothy was and always shall I remember that four inch lionhearted goldfish buried who-knows-where in my backyard.



And on that note I bid thee a good night!





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