Catching the catfish in the well

Appa greeted Ammachi and told her “I think another two more weeks and the crop is ready for harvest”. Ammachi nodded her head.
“Why were you so late?” She asked Appa.
“ As usual the tyre punctured just a few km after Thiruvalla bus station. We had to wait almost an hour to get a replacement bus!.”
Appa took the brass pot that is kept on the low wall and washed his leg and then Amma washed her leg. There was no more water inside the pot and I decided to go to the well and draw the water myself to wash my leg. I also wanted to see if I could catch the fish Ammachi keeps in the well. In the monsoon season, Ammachi would place the fish trap in the brook and the extra fish she caught, she would keep them in the well. In summer even when the brook is dry, Ammachi would still have fish for lunch. She would just scoop the fish out of the nearly dry well using a bucket.
I walked around the side of the house to the well. On the way I passed by the cattle shed. Appa says it is the only multi coloured cattle shed in the world. The cattle shed walls has been painted with, white, blue and yellow paint. Whenever Ammachi paints the house, the left over paint is used on the cattle shed wall. She says the same thing every time when my father complains
“cattle can’t see the colour and I don’t want to waste the paint”
The cattle shed was empty this morning. Ammachi has taken the cattle out to the pasture.
I walked towards the well. Took the metal bucket and lowered it in to the water. The bucket swished down the pulley and dropped in to the water with a thud.
Ammachi was making coffee for Appa in the kitchen and she heard the bucket slamming in to the water. She called out from the kitchen
” Nina, be careful, hold the rope tightly and gently drop the bucket to the water”
“Ok Ammachi” I replied.
I could see the fish in the water and tried navigating the bucket using the rope. Each time I got the bucket near the fish, it just dived and slid away. I pulled the bucket up and washed the mud off my leg with cold water. It felt wonderful, I drew water again and placed the brass pot inside the bucket to fill. I love to see the air bubbles coming out of the brass pot as it gets filled with the water. I must have been so engrossed playing with the water because I didn’t hear Amma’s footsteps. She saw me playing with the water. “Nina what are you doing?” She yelled at me
She rushed to where I was sitting and pulled me up “Haven’t I told you not to play with the water?” She pinched my ear hard and yelled. My ear was hurting and I struggled to get out her grip.
“Amma don’t hurt me, I won’t do it again, I promise.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to play with water before we came over?”
“Didn’t I Nina? Didn’t I explain to you that if you fall ill I have to take time off from work?” She took a twig that was lying near the well and started to hit me on my leg.
“Amma please don’t beat me, God promise I won’t do it again” I begged her. She finally let go of me when the twig was broken in to pieces.
My ear and legs were hurting and I was very angry with my mother for hurting me. I kicked the bucket and ran to the kitchen leaving the bucket and the brass pot behind. Chakki was watching us all the while. I ran to her and she held me. She lifted me to check my legs. There were multiple weals on my leg. Chakki gently massaged my leg.
”You are hurting me” I screamed at her while crying.
“Ok, I won’t hurt you, but I have something for you, I will give it to you only if you stop crying”
I wiped my face with my dress and told her” I am not crying anymore”
Chakki took a small newspaper wrapped bundle from the shelf and gave it to me.
“Why don’t you open it and see?”

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