"There are very few fishermen left today."
- Paul Watson
Once Upon A Time, there lived a young widowed fisherman- Zingloo and his young boy- Vindloo, by the sea.
The young father and son spent hours trying to catch fishes that mostly slipped through their almost tattered fishing net. Catching only a few, they sold them at the fish market for dearth cheap price, except one. Zingloo saved the biggest fish each day for his beloved son!
With little money, a lot of hard work and a daily one-time meal of fish stew, Vindloo grew up agile as a fish, strong as the sea waves and handsome as his father. As the years passed, the fishes became harder to come by. Then came a day when the fishes had gone extinct!
Zingloo, the forever optimist did not give up.
“Vindloo, my son, do not listen to the others. We make our own destiny. I believe there are some fishes still left. I will myself go into the sea and find them.”
Saying so, Zingloo dived deep into the sea. Vindloo's salty thoughts hung heavily in the pregnant atmosphere. Even the sea waited expectantly for Zingloo come back a winner! The seagulls flew around the boat in excited circles at seeing Zingloo’s left arm and then right one wading the waters to the boat! Vindloo, the young teenager, clapped his hands and jumped with joy to see his father’s form break through the waves!
Zingloo raised his head and asked his son to help him up the boat. The disappointment in his eyes pierced through the heart of Vindloo.
“Son, there are no fishes in the sea, no more!”
Tears rolled down Zingloo’s cheeks. He was only a fisherman. He knew nothing else. His mind scrambled in panic,
Vindloo reading his father’s thoughts, said to him,
“Dad, you remember what you said to me some hours ago? I will make my own destiny. I will find something for us in the sea.”
Saying so, Vindloo dived into the sea much like his father.
Vindloo was back in no time armed with clams, snails, prawns, corals and other aquatic beings that people had overlooked for years! Soon, while the fishermen left the coast to find other sources of employment, Zingloo and Vindloo built their small fishing business into an empire. Strangely, it was only Vindloo who was able to find the other aquatic beings. No other fisherman including Zingloo had been successful in catching even one! No one knew Vindloo’s secret yet, although they realized that Vindloo had been blessed by the sea for some reason.
On that very cloudy and cold morning, when Vindloo dived into the sea to find some fishes for his dejected father, his gaze was attracted by an ethereal beauty, with big ocean eyes, golden and green tresses that even a Goddess would envy! Vindloo, like an iron pin, swam into the magnetic persona of the mermaid. The Mermaid asked Vindloo what he was looking for. When Vindloo shared his sad tale, the mermaid smiled kindly and told him,
“Here take these. They taste as good, sometimes even better than fishes. We farm them for our meals. Whenever you need some more come, see me, but remember not to tell anyone about me!”
Vindloo’s trip to the Mermaid became frequent as the demand for his aquatic items increased. The more they met the more they fell in love. Vindloo, on the 135th day of their meeting, proposed to the mermaid with a huge diamond ring he had secretly purchased from the best jeweler in town. The Mermaid gladly accepted. The sea and the aquatics swayed in happiness.
When the excitement had dimmed a wee bit, the Mermaid took Vindloo to their special corner and told him,
“Vindloo, the rules of the sea are very different from that of the land. If you marry me, you will never ever be able to go back to the land. I can’t ask you for such a big sacrifice. I have changed my mind!”
Vindloo found his heart torn but said,
“Lady Mermaid, I love you. I live where you do, already. So, I will remain here with you. My only condition is that my father should never be short of clams, prawns, snails and more. He has fished every day since he was a baby. This is all he knows apart from being a loving father.”
For one last time, Vindloo returned to the land to meet his father. That night the father and son partied, sang fishermen songs and talked. Sleep didn’t knock on their eyelids that night. Zingloo felt his life was about to change. He had no time to ponder on his premonition; he had only time to see his son smile. The next morning, before dawn, the duo walked to the seashore, removed the anchor, pushed their big boat into the sea and rode into the middle of the mist. Vindloo had promised the night before to teach his father the art of catching precious aquatics, their livelihood!
Like they had done when Vindloo was a baby, Zingloo held his son’s hand and jumped into the sea. This time, however, it was Vindloo who was guiding his father, teaching him a new craft! Zingloo was excited with the first catch! He swam up to the boat to deposit his catch while Vindloo followed. By the time he had climbed up the boat, Vindloo was nowhere to be seen! Zingloo searched, for hours but could not find his son. Defeated, he rowed his boat back to the mainland.
Vindloo soon became the Emperor of the sea with his foresight, his compassion, flexibility, and acumen. His kingdom spread to all the five oceans of the earth. As his children grew, he started missing his father more and more! Vindloo became pensive as the days went by. His wife, who loved him dearly, sensed his dilemma but could do much. Both she and Vindloo knew the rule of the water world. Vindloo walked up to his wife one day and asked her if she knew any news of his land. The Mermaid said,
“My Love, a lot has changed on earth now.
“I want to go, for once and see it for myself, dear Love”, said Vindloo.
“Let me see, what I can do about it, My Love”, said his wife.
The Mermaid went to the wisest soul of the water world and told him her husband’s wish. She wanted to know how he could go visit the land and come back to his kingdom and his family without any repercussions. The wizard gave the Mermaid a box and instructed her to give it to Emperor Vindloo with some words of caution. The Mermaid happily reached Vindloo and gave him the box. She said to him,
“My Love, the Great Wizard wants you to take this box along with you to the land. Do not open this box. Once you swim back to me with the box, I will then take you to the Great Wizard, who will help us understand why he asked you to carry the box with you.”
Vindloo returned. Everything looked different in his land of his birth! He could not find the hut he lived in anymore. Concrete roads, huge bungalows adorned the place instead. Thwarted, he walked up to some fishermen by the wharf. The Wharf! It looked completely different and broader than before, and stronger.
He asked them, “Do you know of a fisherman named Zingloo? Can you tell me where he lives?”
The fishermen stared at him in amazement and informed, “Zingloo, the fisherman died about 200 years ago. We can definitely tell you the way to his grave!"
Another one quipped in, "Zingloo contributed greatly to making our town, our community prosper. Zingloo died as an Emperor of ZinVin. He renamed the town in the memory of his beloved son who had drowned while they had gone fishing at the sea.”
Vindloo was still a young man, yet the fishermen said that his father had died two centuries ago! How could this be? This was staggering! He had not been there to say goodbye to his beloved father, nor to take care of his last rites. Vindloo walked up to Zingloo’s grave and arranged all the aquatic gifts and pictures of his immediate family on his father’s. On his epitaph was written “Zingloo- the proud father of Vindloo.” Two centuries of tears flooded the cemetery yet Vindloo was completely parched.
Getting up from his father’s grave, Vindloo opened the box his treasured wife had given him. Unaware that the box contained the elixir of youth. Vindloo aged drastically within seconds and was reduced to a skeleton and then to ashes. A sweet aquatic breeze carried his ashes and covered Zingloo’s grave. The Emperor of the Sea and The Emperor of the Land, who had separated hundreds of years ago- the father and son were together again.
Author: Kundan Bhagwati