Fish out of water

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By 2018-01-14

By Priyangwada Perera

"Malli, guess what..." as soon as they walked out of the school gate, Suneth asked Dunil. "What? A tiger barged into your class?" his witty brother was not in a good mood: still angry about the load of homework he was given in the last period of the day. "I did not think you were this foolish. A tiger?" Suneth was clearly annoyed. Realizing that his brother is angry, Dunil quickly changed his tone. "What happened in class?" "A new boy turned up in class," answered Suneth.

Dunil's mouth opened in a big round 'O'. "What, who starts in a new school like that? It must be terrible to be the only new boy in class and that too at a ripe old age like yours!" Dunil's words annoyed Suneth. "What do you mean by a 'ripe old age', you brat? Just because you are two years younger to me, you think you are a tender nut?", Suneth was losing his temper.

"Okay, okay... just tell me what happened," Dunil was quick to pacify his brother. Suneth started again. "Yes, so a new boy turned up. He has come to Sri Lanka from Italy. His parents have been living there and he was born in Italy." Dunil's eyes went wild. "Wow, he was born in Italy? What is his name?" Suneth answered, "You think it is wonderful, right? His name is Diego. Like the old Argentine football star Diego Maradona." Dunil could not get over this magic of a foreign-born boy in his brother's class. This was too fascinating. "You are so lucky. I wish he came to our grade instead of yours. Does he look foreign? You said his name is Diego, can he play football?" Dunil wanted to know everything.

After thinking for a little while, Suneth answered. "I think he can play Football very well. In fact that is one of the first questions we asked him. He was pretty humble and said he can play a little. But then I think Diego was devastated to hear that our school has only Basketball, Cricket and Hockey when it comes to team games.
Diego couldn't believe his ears. He went on and on asking us whether we are sure there is no football in our school. Most people were annoyed to hear him ask that. But I felt bad for the boy. I am pretty certain he wanted to join the team. Now, he cannot even do that."

"So how is he taking the new experience?" Dunil's interest knew no boundaries. "Oh, like a fish out of water!" came the answer from Suneth. "What? Like a fish out of water?" Dunil giggled so hard. "Like a fish out of water? What do you mean, ayya. How can a fish be out of water?"

Suneth looked at his brother with much calmness and asked, "Can you tell me what happens to a fish if it is out of water?" "Of course, I can. If a fish is out of water it cannot breathe. The fish will tremble and gasp for air. But since it can't breathe unless it is in water, it will die."
Suneth was impressed with his brother's description. "Wow, very well explained, Dunil. Now apply that to Diego's situation. He has studied in Italian. His English is not very good. At least as of now he is not too comfortable with the language.
He has no friends, nobody to talk to and on top of it, he cannot even play his favourite game. So, Diego is like a fish who has fallen out of his tank of water," said Suneth. "Isn't that very sad? I feel so bad for him. I hope he at least has a satalite tv connection and gets to watch his favourite game, ayya.

Why don't you ask Amma and invite him here one day? Maybe we can get Thaththa to buy us a football and try and play with him," Dunil was feeling sad for the new boy. Suneth thought about it and said, "Yes, that we can do. I am sure Diego has a very good soccer ball and he can bring it. But I am really terrible at kicking the ball. I am more of a Basketball guy, you know?" Dunil laughed out loud. "Even if we look silly trying to play soccer, maybe we can help the fish out of water, to get back into the tank."

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