The day our Arowana died I felt a hollow somewhere inside.
Seems like when we share space with another living thing, we become familiar with its life and habits and we develop a kind of emotional attachment to it. That's why I refer to him as Mr. Aro. He's more than just a fish. He's a Golden Arowana. At times I wished he could bark and wag his tail, perhaps like a Golden Retriever. But all I got was his enthusiastic dashing around, expecting me to feed him whenever I took down the container of fish food.
That morning when I raised the shutters, opened the glass door and stepped into the shop I had an awful feeling. Mr. Aro no longer swam over to greet me, waiting eagerly for his breakfast.
I'd become accustomed to his eye-balling me and following me around every morning as I moved about switching on the lights, the air-cond and the PCs.
But that morning I looked at his tank and my heart sank. He was floating deadly still, pale looking, tail down and head hanging behind some pipes and cables in a far corner of his tank. I didn't switch on his tank light. (I wanted to take a picture but couldn't bring myself to do it).
As I was extra busy that day, with Jeff and wife away attending a seminar, I went about attending to business first. Then I sent Jeff a message saying, 'so sorry, the fish is dead'. He was too busy to read my message, so the next call I got from him, after finishing work discussions, I told him.
He called later and told me to wrap it up in plastic and keep it until he came back from the seminar. He wanted to have a last look. After all, he was the one who raised Mr. Aro from a fry of 3 inches. That was 10 years ago.
I wrapped Mr. Aro in plastic, went out and bought half kilo of coarse salt, 2 bags of ice and packed him in a box and left the box in the back of the shop over the weekend.
The strange thing was, a few days before Mr. Aro died, he did a curious thing. He thrashed around in the tank like crazy. Fearing that it might have been a short circuit, I switched off the power supply to the circulation pumps and light. (Of course, there's no such danger. Fishes can't get electrocuted, I was told). In the dimness of the tank I noticed a 4-digit inscription on his left gill plate.
Well, I'm no punter. I don't gamble. Besides, most of those 4 digits can be a number ranging from 0 to 9. Your guess is a good as mine.
R.I.P. Mr Aro. Wish you a better existence in the big river in the sky.