On friday (jumo'a ni din) my daughter's first pet, a betta fish she named "Egg" (I think inspired by the opening scene of Finding Nemo) passed on to the great goldfish bowl in the sky. We performed Egg's dafan (burial) yesterday (technically his tiji-din, or third day as is customary).
Egg was cool. A bright blue betta fish, he and about three dozen of his brethren were handed out at a birthday party. Unlike most of his brethren, he actually survived :)
Egg's first home (apart from the plastic bag) was the small bowl that he came with. I added some nitrogen-absorbent rocks to the bottom. His next home was a relatively gargantuan (by betta fishkeeping standards) 5-gallon tank given to us by a friend who didn't want to lug that sucker with him while moving to Washington DC.
Egg survived Hurricane Rita. Or rather, he survived being taken out of his roomy tank, stuck back in his puny bowl, and then spending 9 hours in a hellish car ride for a total distance of 60 miles to our in-laws place (a trip that under non-evacuee conditions takes only 1 hour). While at my in-laws' place he also survived being dumped out of his bowl onto the carpet, then having to live in tap water with barely any water-treatment solution left. He then survived three days of living in progressively filthier water in that same puny bowl, exacerbated by the fact that I stopped feeding him to keep the filth down as much as possible. Call it the survival-starvation diet. It worked, because we got back home and he went back to his tank happily.
For the next two months, Egg did just fine. He seemed to have no emotional trauma from his Rita adventures. He developed some odd habits, like hanging out near the water heater in his tank all day, or slowly swimming backwards and downwards for no apparent reason, or chasing food particles around the tank. Sometimes he would just chill out all day in the fake grass. All in all, he had it pretty good. Especially given that most bettas are stuck in a half-gallon bowl, and I never got around to buying some cheap fish roommates to fill out the tank.
Last week, though, prior to Thanksgiving, he suddenly stopped eating. Since we were going to my in-laws' again for the long weekend, I transferred him to a new small travel tank I bought for cheap from WalMart and took him with us. Though he wasn't eating, I figured he might start up again and would definitely starve if we abandoned him to his tank at home for four days.
Unfortunately, in Katy he didn't want to eat either, and expired shortly the second day we were there. My father in law buried him in the backyard near the orange tree. Despite an attempt at distraction, Sakina noticed what was going on and started to wail about just WHAT did he think he was doing with Egg in the backyard?! There was some drama and a few tears shed, and then she announced she wanted a goldfish like Elmo's Dorothy. She asked one more time about Egg yesterday evening, but seemed pretty satisfied with the answer to her "Why did we put him in the backyard?" query with the truthful answer, "He's dead, gone to heaven." Which is true, in one sense.
So, to my daughter, reading this in ten years, your first fish had a decent life and lived longer than anyone expected for a birthday party trinket prize. You named him well, amma and I fed and housed him well, and you shed honest, if brief, tears for him. And next time you stop by Nanajan's house in Katy, pause by the orange tree and remember your first pet.
(I am not buying you a pony.)