I pride myself in my ability to witness to an extent those things which appear gross to others. I don’t mind looking at wounds or deep cuts hidden behind swathes of bandages. And I am not disgusted by those scenes in Man vs. Wild – a favourite show of mine – in which worms and insects are eaten alive. I also enjoy popping pimples and boils until that greenish-white pus oozes out, much to my satisfaction and the onlookers’ disapproval. But there is one thing which I can’t tolerate and that is a fish.
I am not a vegetarian, nor an animal lover. I don’t exhibit sympathy or affection for animals for too long; I have matters of much more importance to attend to. I don’t think about those animals which were fated to appear on my plate, and even if I do, it doesn’t matter much.
Unless it is a fish.
It’s mostly because of the smell that I prefer not to eat it. My aversion to that smell is so extreme that it makes me lose my appetite and lock myself in my room until every morsel has been wiped clean off everyone’s plates.
Mostly I am nauseated only when I have consumed too much of fried food or chocolate cake, and sometimes before I reach the examination centre. But never do I feel sick on an empty stomach, much less at the prospect of having food.
Unless fish is being served.
The smell isn’t the only factor that stimulates such a reaction. It is the sight of that fish on the plate with all its fins removed and a V-shaped hole in place of its head. It is next to impossible to imagine the original form of those little pices of meat floating amidst all that curry, never hinting that they are the parts of a large animal now deceased. It’s harmless dead-meat that you’re eating, nothing else. You don’t consider the process involved in bringing an animal right into your plate; it’s there before you, roasted or curried, exuding delicious smells, waiting to be tasted and pronounced superb, and that’s all that matters to your growling stomach.
Unless you’re eating fish.
When I look at the fried remains of the fish, I’m at once reminded of its live contemporaries. I imagine the fish swimming gracefully and braving the currents, its scales shining under the afternoon sun mellowed by the film of water above the fish. And then it’s trapped in a net, swooped upwards out of the water, and life slowlh ebbs out of it with each breadth not taken. (Yes, I know I am exaggerating but it sounded nice to me so I included it.) But the fish on the plate bears a stark resemblance to its former self and I can’t help pitying it.
As I have earlier mentioned my lack of sympathy for animal-kind, the following question arises: What generates a compassion for fishes in me? I would have thought it was because of Nemo, the clownfish, but it’s not that. I have watched Charlotte’s Web and have liked it too but that doesn’t mean that I will hesitate before eating pork or bacon or ham or any other word related to pig’s meat. I haven’t tried it but am super confident in my ability to digest it without throwing up which would not have been the case had I been eating fish instead.
I think it’s those mermaids that did this. They are part fish, and eating a part of those creatures which have been loved by my past self (for I loved mermaid stories when I was small), is unthinkable. That’s the only reason I can attribute to my extreme dislike for fishes.