Breakfast, lunch and dinner…

a year in Kiev 50‘I fucking love science’ has just busted the goldfish myth! seems they actually have rather amazing memories… reminded me of a few goldfish I once knew… breakfast, lunch and dinner we called them…

It was somewhere back in the mid 90s when I was living in Kiev… I was running away from a broken heart and exiled myself to the frozen banks of the Knieper for a year with the Soros Foundation, teaching English for the poison dwarf as we called our director… days of champagne and vodka and mafia bazooka attacks at metro stations… days of 300% inflation, cockroach infested apartments, salo jokes and ice fishing, poetry, music and laughter… days when the bar only had 3 beers in stock, when the cafe only had cheese but no bread and days when after standing for an hour in a snowstorm at the market the farmer ran out of eggs… it was really the best of times and the worst of times… I could fill a book with the weird and wonderful Kiev tales and the companions who shared the journey but for now just the fishes…

It happened one day in winter. I was getting dressed and as I leaned forward into the cupboard a pain ripped through my body… I sat shivering, in shock, in pain, unable to move without the pain searing through my back while my friend rang for help… a doctor arrived finally… he danced around, making jokes, utterly uninspiring confidence… he produced a small vial of liquid, a painkiller of sorts and lopped off the top, spraying slivers of glass everywhere… he couldn’t tell me what the problem was…

For 6 weeks I lay on the floor unable to move… I had an  x-ray which revealed a node on my spine… nothing serious really… my students came to visit… they arrived with sweet smiles and chocolates and a small bag with three little goldfish… they said it was a Ukrainian superstition that the fish would bring good luck and help the healing process.

And, true enough, as I recovered the fish began to disappear… after a month one of the fish died and when I returned to work the second one died… only Breakfast was left… she stayed longer until one day she too was found floating on the surface… I put her on a plate feeling a little sad at the loss of this last member of my little lucky trio and left her on the counter, under the hot water heater… after about an hour she suddenly started to twitch and come back to life… the heater had a drip which must have done the trick! A miracle! What joy!

It was Spring by then and the weather was warming; the Kneiper had thawed, the nudists and fishermen were back on the beaches and the blue rinse brigade back to their Sunday dancing in the island park. At dusk one day, I took Breakfast to this island in the middle of the Knieper and let her go free into a little stream…

I wonder now if she remembered me…

Ukrainian joke: 2 men were fishing. one of them caught a goldfish and his friend advised him to let it go. The goldfish popped back up and said ‘you’ve released me so you now have a wish. You can have anything you want on condition that your friend gets double what you get.’ So the man wished to be blind in one eye.

About F_ox

Just a mother, a wife, a writer, a professional marketer, amateur photographer, art lover, aspiring beekeeper... dreaming of a citrus grove in Sardinia... 'let the beauty of what you love be what you do' ~ Rumi
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