Yellow Fish – Ambai (CS Lakshmi)


Frankly speaking, this short piece of a story is not as deep and difficult as some people believe (God knows if they really believe!) and write. It is a very very simple story, translated from Tamil, with some good imagery and emotions. That’s all. There is nothing so much about gender discrimination in this piece (except Anu orders Arun to open the urn that contained Jalaja’s ash)

Gender Discrimination @ kiddingtown

In fact, gender discrimination is an unnecessary theme to debate. The more women cry, “give us freedom!” the less do they get. After all, who shall give them freedom? Man doesn’t keep it – it is the society that keeps it. Society means man and woman – boys and girls. Educate the society, that’s what our feminists have to do – not to wage war against men, who, during the stone age, told his wife, “stay in, feed the babies and close the lid of the cave firmly. I am going to war with our enemies.”

Story | Bit/Bits
  • It is a fishing coastal area. After a long wait, fishermen are returning in their boat with heavily laden catch of fish. One by one the boats arrive and fishermen and women storm (come around) the boats and start sorting fish.
  • A yellow fish (with black dots) slips off the net (we don’t know if the yellow fish was male or female!) and Anu, a young woman gets the fish.
  • Anu feels sorry for the fish. The fish’s opening its mouth for water reminds Anu of Jalaja – her daughter who died recently.
  • We are not specifically told how Jalaja died yet we can assume that she had drowned in the sea. One day the baby walked out of her home and the sea took her.
  • There is no surprise that they had got ger dead body from the water because her name meant that – “Jalaja, taken from water!”
  • Anu remembers how they had cremated Jalaja’s body and how mad she had gone when her husband Arun brought her ash in an urn (pot).
  • Now, Anu turns to a boy who passed by. She asks him to throw the yellow fish back into the sea. The boy laughs at Anu.
Fishermen Return
  1. How does Ambai describe the return of the fishermen?
  2. How do fishermen and women get ready to welcome the returning boats?
Remembering Jalaja
  1. Why does the narrator say that Jalaja was meant for the sea?
The Yellow Fish

What do you think?

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Sympathy – Paul Lawrence Dunbar

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