Sometimes it is Just About the Fish

And sometimes it’s not? I have tried to ignore the pond, put it out of my mind entirely, just give up and leave it to Rohemon. I had nearly succeeded too. Many people who have outdoor water features don’t feed their fish. The idea is for the fish to eat what fish in the wild do. In fact, many people in Jakarta keep water plants in pots with fish, or ponds especially as mosquito deterrents. As is their way, the mosquitoes lay their eggs on the water, and as is their nature, the fish eat the insect eggs.  This easy care mosquito reduction system which works great as long as you don’t care whether your fish are happy or starving.

We like fat, happy fish, so we feed them. Every day. We go through about a bag of fish pellets a month. Monday-Saturday Rohemon feeds the fish. And I feed them on Sundays—or did when I liked the pond fish. But ever since Rohemon stocked it with those pretty fish murdering monster lele, I have been trying to ignore the pond all together. Sunday before last, I lapsed.  I was out back pruning as I do many Sundays, and took pity on the pond fish—even though I detest the rotten, slimy ugly monsters. I sprinkled food pellets over the water and watched.

A few lazy algae eaters drifted up to investigate--even took a few listless bites.  But that was it.  Where was the sudden flash of orange splotched monster fish? Where were the Ikan Lele? Thinking the lele might be too scared to surface; I took a giant step back and watched from a distance. Nothing.

The lele were gone—all of them, even the babies. I must admit, I was little disappointed and a lot put out. Rusnati tells me everything—or I thought she did—she had certainly made a point of telling tell me about the babies. And the high price of fish food. And how the thatch from my sun shelter clogs the filter. And when I discussed my idea about turning the pond into a fish spa by stocking it with those tiny fishlets that nibble the dead skin off ones’ feet at the price of 200,000 for 20 minutes, a dollar a minute, at specialized fish spas, she spent about 5 dollars worth of spa time sharing how when she was young and her mother would go to the garden, Rusnati used to sit with her feet in the pond and a fish net handy, enjoying a book or snack while the fish nibbled her feet. And if a large enough fish happened to come close, she’d swoop in with the net and catch it to cook and eat with rice.  Why hadn’t she told me the lele were gone?

Had Rohemon finally fattened them up enough to eat? Or had Warjo, the pool man, poisoned them like he had other fish in the past? Or had they been sold off to the highest bidder?--would I ever know? Did I really care?--was it worth launching an investigation?

“Well, I’ll fix this,” I decided, determined to show everyone who was boss. Before leaving town last weekend, I gave Aan 100,000 Rp, about ten dollars, and instructed him to buy me 10 lovely, big, fluffy new golden pond fish.

First thing Sunday evening, I rushed outside to the pond, expecting to see graceful golden fish fluttering about beneath the surface.


I know, I know:  There is more to life than a fish pond. And there is way more to think about, to worry about, to spend my days agonizing over than the state of my backyard pond. But….but…