Once upon a time there lived a family of moon snails in the shallows of a big enchanted slough. The moon snails enjoyed a peaceful, undisturbed existence for centuries. They lived on the fine green moss that grew on the base of the reeds, water lilies, lotus leaves, and the bulbous water hyacinth floaters that covered the slough and kept the water clean.
It was a serene, calm world until that one infamous day when the red-eyed mud-fish tasted some of the moon snails that fell off their leafy perch and tumbled down to the dark muddy bottom. It was down there in the black, murky, muddy silt that the red-eyed mud-fish decided to dwell.
The mighty red-eyed mud-fish loved the taste of moon snail so much his insatiable appetite drove him to hunt them, day and night, not only in the muddy bottom but also atop the lotus leaves, water hyacinth floaters, and reed stalks. The mud-fish showed no mercy. The moon snail’s thin, fragile, and translucent shell was no match for the mud-fish’s steely jaws and sharp teeth.
The mud-fish thrived while the moon snails dwindled. Alarmed at the sight of the unabated moon snail carnage, the fairy wardens of the enchanted slough met at dusk to come up with a mitigation. Their mission was to keep intact, the balance of life in the slough.
The fairy wardens agreed on a solution finally. It was early the following morning, the rising sun peeked above the line of mango trees and the tall, spindly bamboo clumps majestically arrayed by the far foothills.
The rice farmers were already busy transplanting their rice seedlings into the soft mush of the prepared rice beds. Music filled the air. Singing and unusual mirth echoed round the green fields hemmed by the dreaded goblins forest.
Unbeknownst to the farmers as they tilled their rice beds, the fairy wardens went about catching the red-eyed mud-fish and apportioning their wriggling catch into each of the farmer’s creels. The fairies sprinkled stardust over the farmers as they flew off and away from the bright light of day.
The farmers felt the enchantment. Even after their hard work they felt a certain lightheartedness, a certain joy – a feeling of newly found strength from the fairy’s stardust.
Astride their beasts of burden, the farmers went home after their workday was over, each surprised to find their creel overflowing with live, fat, and sassy red-eyed mud-fish. Oblivious of how the fish got there, they continued on their journey toward the village.
There was much merrymaking on that night of the red-eyed mud-fish feast. Wine flowed and spontaneous dancing erupted. What a night it was.
After that fateful day when the fairy wardens raided the red-eyed mud-fish schools, the steely jawed marauders no longer enjoyed routing moon snail colonies with impunity. Alas, they became the preferred catch of the day for the rice farmers. The mud-fish were easy to catch. The farmers just baited their traps with a couple of moon snails.
An after thought: Addiction to moon snails can be deadly… if you are red-eyed, and a mud-fish.
(All photos used for illustration only – courtesy of Bing.com)