Once upon a time..
Once upon a time in Korea, I had a chance to have Korean style food. It was my colleague who had taken me to a Korean restaurant for dinner. After much discussion about our individual non-vegetarian interests, we decided on a seafood restaurant. It was a typical korean restaurant where we need to sit on the floor. There were hardly few people in the restaurant. It was first time for me in such a restaurant and we decided to go for a fish dish,
It was a special fish which she had ordered. She said that people die to eat this fish. The waitress came with a pile of vegetable salad and mushroom on which the pieces of fish were spread out. There was a stove at the middle of the table on which we kept all the ingredients and started heating it. While she was heating the fish mixed with vegetables, she again mentioned that the fish is a special one and the cook who cleans it is very skilled and very few of them are found in Korea. With all my concentration on the fish getting cooked, I didn’t worry much to ask what is so special about the fish. Twenty minutes of cooking, the food was now ready to be served. Since I wasn’t too keen on the vegetables, I took more of the fish and less of the greener stuff. When I put the fish in my mouth, the first thing that came to my mind was “Wowww”. It was very tasty and nothing like I had tasted before. I told her the same and she was happy that I liked the food and in return she told me yet again that it was a special kind of fish!!! . Now that she had mentioned it thrice, I thought that it would not be sensible if I do not ask about it. So I asked her what was so special with this fish?. While I asked her this question, I was munching another delicious piece of the fish.
Then came the answer which blew my mind and made me go blank for a moment. She said, “It is a poisonous fish” and gave a broad smile!. It was a situation where I was having a piece of poison in my mouth and was appreciating the same without even knowing if I will be alive to complete it. She saw the deserted look on my face and said laughingly, “Don’t worry. The cook is an expert and he would have removed the poison. So, it should be safe”. “Phewwwww”, I got back my breath hearing that the poison is removed when she dropped another bomb by telling, “But, there have been cases where people have died after eating the fish. People still take the risk because they like it a lot”. This sentence shook me to the core and I was wondering if I had done something which would have made this girl take such a revenge on me. For the first time in my life, I started to think about death. All my near and dear ones came to my mind while I thought of the numerous pieces of fish that I had just eaten.
Looking at my condition, she tried to calm me down, telling that the particular cook in the restaurant was very good at cleaning this kind of fish and there was no harm till date in that restaurant. She also said that very few people have died in some rare circumstances. That calmed me a bit though I was still worried deep inside. Also, there was that interesting taste in the fish which attracted me towards it even after knowing its dark stories. I did not want to spoil the dinner also by leaving the food half eaten. So, with a strong heart, I gulped the last few pieces of fish thinking, “Who knows, this might be my last dinner. Let me eat properly so that I don’t die empty stomach”.
Once the dinner was over, It was time for her to leave. It was a weekend on the next day and she asked me to give a call as soon as I wake up. I din’t understand why she said that and asked her the reason. After hearing what she said, I realized that I shouldn’t have made the mistake of asking it!!!. She replied, “Sometimes the poison shows late reaction. People generally eat this fish in the afternoon so that they can rush to the hospital if there is any problem. If we eat in night and something happens during sleep, we might not be in a position to rush to the hospital. Since I was busy during the day, dinner was the only option. Bye”. She smiled and left, but left me without smiles.
I reached my room and saw the watch ticking at 10 pm. There was no way I could get sleep. Every time I tried to sleep, I was thinking, “what if I don’t wake up tomorrow”. One of the statements that she made, “people die to eat this fish”, recurred in my mind constantly. Now I started realizing the actual meaning of that word “die” in her statement. This was the first time I also thought that, “Maybe Maneka Gandhi was right!!”. By the time death started dancing in my mind, the clock had already ticked 12. Now I started feeling uneasy in my stomach. Though this used to happen earlier also, today was a special one. Everything seemed to be like an indication from death, be it tired legs or the stomach ache or the aching eyes. With so many things going on in my mind, I never realized when I went down to sleep.
It was 7 am when my alarm clock shouted and woke me up. My ears went straight hearing that sound. I opened my eyes to see the light and jumped on the bed saying, “Escape… grrrrrrreatttt escape”