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K P Pan Dian
Once upon a time there lived a fisherman.
He had a wife and three children, two girls and one boy.
Fishing was their only livelihood.
He went out to sea every day in his catamaran and caught fish with the help of a small net.
His wife took the fish to the local market and sold them, it did not fetch them much income but it was enough to make both ends meet.
One day the fisherman fell ill and was not able to go fishing.
The food grains they had lasted for just two days.
The fisherman was still ill and they could do nothing about it because they had little money to pay the doctor or to buy medicines.
They all became despondent.
Looking at the starving children the fisherman's wife felt very sad.
She felt utterly helpless because she knew no other means of livelihood except selling the fish.
But if she wanted to save her husband and children from hunger she had to find some other means of income. She thought furiously about what she could do. Suddenly her eyes fell upon her husband's fishing net.
She decided to go fishing even though she did not know how to cast the net.
But she knew how to row a catamaran which she learnt as a child from her father.
She took the net with determination, with the help of her eldest daughter, she took the catamaran into the deep sea and cast the net.
Since they had no experience they could not even catch a single fish, but they did not give up. They tried and tried and tried until they were exhausted.
The fisherman's wife lost heart, but she decided to give one more try before giving up and cast the net again.
What a wonder! One big fish lay writhing in her net. The fisherman's daughter shouted with joy.
When the fisherman's wife was about to remove the fish from the net, it started talking in human voice!
"O! noble fisherwoman, please leave me free. I have small children at home and have to look after them."
Hearing this the fisherwoman felt a pang in her heart and remembered her own starving children. She became full of sympathy for the mother fish and in spite of going empty handed she let the fish go free.
Suddenly there was a glowing light around the catamaran and the fish became a mermaid.
"O! noble lady, I am the guardian of the fishes and I am very pleased with you. Even though your children have to go hungry you have thought of my children and left me free.
Now this is my boon to you!"
Saying this the mermaid waved her magic wand and the catamaran became full of big fishes.
The fisherwoman and her daughter stood motionless with wonder and when they recovered the mermaid was gone.
With great joy they rowed back towards the shore and lo and behold, who was there but the sick fisherman now in his full health to welcome them with both arms.
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