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Once upon a time there was a red fish with blue dots, absurd fins which stuck out on both sides like elephants' ears and a spangled tail. The other, more ordinary grey fish, informed her dispassionately that she was absurd - no two ways about it, she was indisputably and manifestly absurd. The red fish chewed her lower lip. sighed and agreed, well, yes, blue polka dots ... a bright red colour ... patently absurd, but was there anything she could do about it? 'No, no,' the grey fish said kindly. 'There is nothing you can do. We were not suggesting that it was your fault.' 'You have misunderstood me,' replied the fish. 'I was not trying to expiate guilt. I was merely trying to change my appearance.' 'But would that  be honest?' The red fish looked at   the others in surprise. 'Are you saying,' she asked, 'that I either have to be bad and beautiful or I have to be ugly and honest?' 'Oh no, no, no. Heaven forbid that we should use such loaded language,' they cried out in chorus. 'Well, what are you saying then,' demanded the red fish. 'We were merely commenting on your appearance.' 'What's wrong with it?' 'Oh, there's nothing "wrong" with it. It's just that it's a little - ' 'Yes?'  ' 'Foreign.' In the end the red fish swam away, while the silvery fish glanced discreetly down their streamlined sides, their elegant backs, and shimmered.

Suniti Namjoshi

From Saint Suniti and the Dragon, Spinifex Press 1993

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