The fisher-wife

Once there was a lady who married a fisherman. They lived in a house on a small hill that looked eastward over the sea. They could wake up each morning and enjoy the rising sun and they were safe from Tsunamis. When they married the fisherman had a prosperous business, but as time went by the big overseas trawlers had fished out the coastal waters and there were just a few fish left, just enough to scrape together a living for the hardworking fisherman. At first the wife had been so proud of her handsome hardworking husband and their beautiful home, but as things got worse she became depressed and discontented. Things just got worse for the poor husband, he earned very little from fishing, he lost his boat and he was constantly nagged at home. Their house fell into disrepair and became a shack.

The husband fished by hand all along the coast from dawn to dusk, at the best he caught three or four fish in a day. One day after quite a struggle he caught a large fish, this was worth nearly a weeks catch and the fisherman thought his fortune was changing. As he knelt to take the hook from the fish’s mouth he thought he heard a voice. He did hear a voice; it was the fish that was speaking. When he listened carefully he thought the fish was saying, “Save me I am a special fish full of accumulated wisdom”. This seemed unbelievable, that a fish could speak, but the fisherman was a kindly fellow and he did feel sorry for the slowly choking fish: so he put the fish back into the sea. Once back in the sea, the fish wriggled slowly and then started to gather strength. Before it swam away it came close inshore and poked its head out of the water and said clearly “Thankyou for your kindness, if you ever need my help, come back to this spot and call for me.” Then with a wiggle and a flash it disappeared.

That evening the fisherman went back empty handed to describe his days fishing to his wife. When she heard about the magic fish she became excited and angry. “You fool” she said “Why didn’t you ask the fish to grant you at least one wish?” “But what would I ask for?” asked the fisherman. “A fine house and riches” said the wife “I don’t know why you were too tongue tied to ask the fish for these obvious things.”

The next day, the fisherman walked back down the beach and called for the fish. To his surprise the fish soon appeared and asked what he was calling for. “A fine house and riches” said the fisherman. “That is not a problem” said the fish, go home to your wife and you will find she is happy.”

The fisherman went home wondering what he would find. To his delight he found his happy wife in a lovely five bedroom house with plenty of space and all modern conveniences, including a swimming pool. For many weeks they lived a happy life in their seaside home. The magic fish had provided a bank account with a regular income so that the fisherman didn’t need to work anymore; of course he still went fishing, he couldn’t just sit around all day doing nothing (other than waiting to die of old age). All was well for about a year, but slowly the wife found that she had to work to keep the house clean and tidy and she wished that more people would drop by to keep her company and share her interests; she found the house was becoming large and lonely. After a few more months she was discontented and depressed again. She asked her husband to go back to the fish and ask for a palace with servants running about to clean and fix her home.

The husband felt that he was being ungrateful to ask the fish for more but one day he went down the beach again and called up the fish. As before, the fish soon appeared and listened carefully to the request. This time the fish said “That is not a problem, go home to your wife and you will find she is happy.”

The husband went home to his happy wife. She was thrilled with her impressive building carefully attended by cooks, butlers, pantry maids, gardeners, housekeepers and even a CEO. As before there was a bank account with sufficient to met costs of the palace, although there was never too much money available. The wife was so happy with her palace, she held parties and always had welcome guests who stayed over to enjoy the seaside, nothing it seemed could go wrong; but slowly it did. The problem was the servants never did exactly what the wife expected; they seemed disobedient and sometimes lazy. While the guest were always fun they did become demanding, why couldn’t they just enjoy all the free facilities? Slowly the fisherman’s wife wanted to become a queen so that she could rule over people and demand that they did exactly what she wanted; or else! She expected her husband to do exactly what he was told so she told him to go back to the fish and ask that she could become a queen and rule over her subjects.

This time the husband was quite worried he went back to the fish, half hoping that the fish would refuse the request. However he found the fish quite happy with the request who said “This is not a problem, go home to your wife and you will find she is happy.”

The husband went home to his happy wife. He was surprised to find that their seaside palace had become a fortress. There were guards at the gate and it took the poor husband half an hour before he was allowed to enter by the security guards. There were still servants every where but they were compelled to do exactly what they were told and they looked and acted more like slaves than servants. Visitors still came to the palace but now these were official diplomats and the visits were filled with protocols and formal meetings which were just boring and no fun for anyone. The fisherman’s wife was queen and ruler her every whim was heeded and obeyed, but everyone was scared of disobeying and they avoided her company and were never friendly, just very polite. It only took a few months for the wife to become discontented and depressed. What she wanted was for everyone to meet her expectations while they were all happy and friendly together. Her husband explained that this was not possible and only God can such work miracles. “That is it”, said the wife “ask the fish to make me God.”

Now the husband really feared for his wife, he could understand her boredom and depression, but thus was no excuse for demanding or expecting the impossible. It seemed that the wife needed medical help, but how can you insist that a queen be declared to be medically ill if she denies this to be the case. He could see no solution to her unreasonable demands, but then he remembered that the magic fish had said that it was full of wisdom, perhaps, if the fish was patient and longsuffering the fish would know how to solve the problem. He went down to the beach and called and waited, this time the fish never came. Nevertheless the husband was desperate to find help for his wife so he waited and called throughout the day. Towards evening the fish finally appeared and asked what the fisherman wanted. “My wife wants to be God" said the fisherman. “That is impossible” said the fish, “go home and tell your wife not to bother me anymore.”

The fisherman went home with a heavy heart. He found the palace and guards were no longer there. Instead he found the lovely five bedroom house with plenty of space and all modern conveniences, including a swimming pool. His wife came running out and she seemed excited and happy. “Look” she said “I have my good house back and no one can tell me what to do I can do all the cleaning and arranging by myself.” “How long will this last?” wondered the husband.

A year later the wife was still delighted with her home, so much so that she was pregnant and waiting for her first child. Nothing went wrong, and after a few years the house was full with a happy family ruled over by their loving mother. The wife had completely forgotten her silly request to be God; she was quite happy to let God take care of the universe while she took care of her family. As the children grew up they had many friends who loved to come and stay in the happy home, the house was always full and the lives of the fisherman and his wife had never been richer or fuller.

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