Four friends were on their way on a camping trip near a lake. They walked deep inside the forest with the help of a paper map. Thanks to the weak network, Google maps did not work.
“I had asked you to download the offline maps.” Nayana was agitated. She was a perfectionist but this time she was forced to give in to her friends’ arrangements. It was an impromptu camping decision. Despite having only two days, she did manage to hoard necessities, food, raw as well as cooked for all four of them, barbeque essentials, first aid kit, etc.
“Girl, just chill! We have this compass. See.” Ayush held out a compass that was a rusted piece of metal with a bent needle. “We will reach there soon.” He said nonchalantly. Ayush was a laid-back guy and liked to relax on outings. He would always prefer to take leisure trips but once Nayana mocked him for being just a lazy bum. So, he decided to plan a camping trip and not disclose many details to her.
“Hope, we reach the lake soon.” Anandita sighed, she loved going on trips with her friends, be it anywhere but right now she was just tired of the interminable walk.
Saransh walked behind in the line following the lead. He was as excited as Anandita for the camping but the long walk was draining him out as well. The four of them kept walking for the next two hours and eventually reached the lake but there was no camping site or tents setup.
“Where are others? Or are we at the wrong site?” Nayana questioned as Saransh pulled out the pamphlet from his bag that Ayush had stuffed in at the start of the trip. She snatched it from his hands and screamed. “It was yesterday.”
Everyone looked at Ayush tempestuously, who was busy tying a hammock between two trees. He glanced at the trio from the corner of his eye, also trying to escape their glares. After a few seconds, he spoke out, “Chill, you guys! I know. I know. I messed up the dates. The camp was indeed yesterday. But it is O.K. Look around it’s so beautiful. We can have our private camping.”
“Ayush, dude, do you understand. We don’t have a guide. There is no network. What are we going to do in case of an emergency?” Nayana yelled again.
“Come on. It’s a matter of one night. Don’t be such a brat and spoil the mood. Let’s start our camping. Yoo-hoo!”
“Yeah, Nayana. Now that we are here let’s enjoy ourselves. I also got my fishing rod. I will go fishing.” Saransh skipped exhilarated.
“After, the tent is set up.” Nayana glared.
Ayush and Saransh started setting up the tents and beds while Nayana and Anandita unpacked food items. Once everything was set, all four of them sat down for snacks which were a combination of potato dumplings in bread buns, tiny doughnuts, juices, and soda.
They had a fun time munching and chitchatting. They decided to keep the camping experience as authentic as possible, since Nayana wanted to update the experience on her travel blog, once home. Anandita and Nayana decided to set up a barbeque and cook dinner with the home brought potatoes and onions with the side of ready cheese dips and leftover bread.
Saransh jumped. “Ok then, we still have an hour to start for dinner, so I am going fishing.”
Suddenly Anandita enraptured, “Yeah, and we can roast the caught fish too. Wow! This will be a lifetime experience. Winner Winner Fishy Dinner.”
Nayana scrunched her nose while Ayush blabbered. “Do whatever, just wake me up when dinner is ready.”
Ayush hopped on the hammock for a nap. Nayana decided to read the downloaded book on her kindle and Anandita joined Saransh in fishing.
Anandita and Saransh assembled the fishing rod and stuck a worm on the fishing hook. They waited patiently eyeing the string and praying for a fish to come by.
“I have heard there are lots of fishes here,” Saransh claimed passing the fishing rod handle from his right hand to his left and flexed his right palm.
“Is it? Then it would be a full-fledged fish dinner.” Nayana clapped in excitement.
“Shush. Don’t make a noise.” Saransh adjured Nayana to calm down.
After ten minutes they saw some movement on the fishing rod string. Saransh gripped the handle tight and rolled the reel adjust back. They looked excitedly at the hook but there was no fish stuck to it and the worm was gone.
They tried again and the same thing repeated. Tried again the third time and the result was the same.
“It seems the fishes here are smart.” Anandita tapped her right temple. “They eat the worms tactfully without getting caught.”
“The worms are about to end. Doesn’t seem like we would have any fish dinner.” Saransh groaned.
It went on for about one hour now. Nayana came to see the number of catches and pulled up the bucket lid. It was empty. She raised her eyebrows with a puckered smile. Anandita and Saransh looked at her with long faces.
“Poor you two, let me try.” Nayana gestured to Saransh to hand over the rod. He stuck another worm on the hook and passed the fishing rod handle to Nayana.
Within three minutes, the string moved and Nayana dragged the reel back hysterically. There it was, a tiny fish fluttering, its gills stuck in the hook.
Anandita and Saransh’s faces lit up with glee and Nayana looked at them in triumph. “See, this is how you catch fish.”
“Yeah, Nayana you are a hero.” Saransh unhooked the fish and put it inside the bucket.
“It’s so cute and beautiful and tiny.” Nayana looked at the fish whirling in the small bucket.
“Yeah!” Anandita scooched down to watch the fish swim.
“It’s tiny but we can get a few more for dinner. Come on Nayana. Go for it.” Saransh said.
“No Saransh, throw it back in the water.” Nayana pled.
“What?” Anandita and Saransh shrieked so loud that Ayush woke up with a start and fell down the hammock.
Ayush stabilized himself and came near the trio rubbing his eyes. “What happened guys?”
“What about fish dinner?” Anandita cried.
Nayana pursed her lips and looked at Anandita. “It’s such a tiny being, why do you want to eat it. There are so many other things for you. Why do you want to chew on this little life?” She pressed her index finger to the thumb demonstrating the tiny size.
“But…” Anandita didn’t know what to say.
“It’s ok. Fishes are edible and we can eat them. They are tasty.” Saransh made a slurpy noise licking his lips.
“Even wild animals feel the same about humans, would you like to serve yourself as dinner to one of them?” Nayana retorted.
Saransh looked around the forest and shook his head frantically in a no. He was speechless for the moment. He robotically picked up the bucket and threw the fish with water, back into the lake.
Anandita and Ayush tried to stop but it was gone. Nayana looked at Saransh with pride. They gathered the fishing set up and headed back towards the tent.
“Don’t be sad, Guys. I have something even more delicious for you all. A big portion of scrumptious guacamole with bread.” Nayana pacified the group.
“Yeah, whatever. Winner Winner, No Fish for dinner.” Anandita sighed.
Nayana opened her food box and pulled out the guacamole container. She spread out the slices of bread on the plates and organized small bowls filling them with guacamole and cheesy dips. Once everything was set up, she called out. “Guys, come. Dinner ready.”
Ayush as usual walked lazily towards the dinner plate. “I knew this was going to happen. So…” He slid his hand inside his backpack and pulled out a large box. All the other three looked at it with curiosity eagerly waiting for Ayush to open it.
Ayush placed his finger on the lid to open it and looked up at Nayana. “So! Winner Winner No Fish for Dinner?”
Nayana raised her right eyebrow. Ayush looked at the other two. “Guys, Winner Winner, It’s Chicken Dinner.” He opened the box dramatically and it was filled with KFC chicken fries. Anandita and Saransh quickly pulled out chicken wings from the box.
“I knew Nayana would again serve us this guacamole for dinner.” Ayush made a pukey expression, “So, I packed chicken fries on the way.”
Nayana angrily looked at Ayush and fake-fisted him. Everyone broke into peals of laughter and discussed the story for Nayana’s blog.
The next day on the blog – Deep inside the forest, there is a beautiful lake with a variety of fishes but popularly known for Tilapia. We had an exceptional fishing experience where we caught a lot of fresh Tilapias. The highlight of the camp was barbequing the fresh catch of fish. Wow! It was a splendid exploration. ‘Winner Winner Fishy Dinner.’
This story is written by Namita Das who is a techie-turned-author. She is already spreading smiles with her debut humour novella ‘It’s Punny Oops, I mean Funny!’ and its short sequel ‘
Happily Technically, Ever After!’ Her latest release ‘Who Ate Our Food?’ also belongs to the same genre but with a dash of thrill and horror in it. To read more from her visit her website, www.penitratherkeyit.com