"The Fishes in Enchanto's Lake"

 

The following story is very unique to my family as it has been handed down to my mother from my grandparents and their parents before. The story however can be regarded as a myth or a true story for in the vast deep jungles over the mountains in Mindanao, everything is possible. In fact, my father was very much enticed with the story that he and his friends proposed long time ago to set an exploration to the mountains near my mother’s hometown to see whether the story of my mother’s clan is true enough. However, my mother refrained him by using her wise judgement and warnings about rebels, wild animals etc. This story has ignited many men’s (including my mother’s relations) primitive passion for adventure.

The mountains of Mindanao are numerous and regal. They are as old as the earth and proud as the sun. They hold many treasures and many secrets. And one particular mountain holds an enchanting mystery. Enchanting indeed for they say it is owned by a fairy. One must know however that fairies in the Philippines are not those of minute stature with wings covered in pixies. But they are old ancient beings that were born since the beginning of earth. Old they maybe, they appear to humans as tall, beautiful beings with fair skin and hair wearing fancy clothes.

That certain fairy is believed to have a wondrous lake nestled on top of a high mountain. It may have been like any ordinary lake except for one thing, the fishes that swam in these waters can only be found in the sea! Imagine a fresh water lake filled with the bounties of the sea.

The villagers in that mountain are wise enough however not to meddle with the Enkanto’s (Enkanto is the local word for fairy derived from the Spanish word of Enchanted) lake. It was owned by the just lady. The lake is hers, the fish is hers just like the rice fields are for the villagers and as well as their livestock. They live in harmony with their mutual respect for each other.

One day however, a pair of travellers from the lowlands stumbled across this remote lake and was amazed by the multitude of fish swimming idly in the waters. They were also hungry. And they both proposed in a loud voice to go fishing.

At that exact moment, a villager was passing through and overheard the visitors. He promptly went to them and said, “Excuse me lads but it seem you are not from this area. I have overheard your conversation and pardon me for intruding but I must say that it is not possible to fish here for this lake is owned by an Enkanto and she will not be pleased if somebody touches her beloved pets. If you want, you can come with me to my village and my family can feed you.”

Of course the men laughed for they thought that this ignorant villager from a backward village is trying to make a fool out of them. They are from the lowlands and they are very sure that Enkantos are an old wives’ tale. One of them snorted and said, “You are a funny man but we do not have time to listen with your silly talks for we are hungry. Off you go, old man.”

The old man tried to protest and explained to them as best as he could but the men’s laughter grew louder and they became more insolent. The old man had no choice but to go for he had done his job as best as he could.

So the two foolish men proceeded to catch as much fishes as their greedy eyes could see. (I would love to insert Jimmy’s grandfather’s quote here about the eyes hungrier or greedier than the stomach but I am not sure how it goes). It was an easy job for the fish were many and they were innocent about being preyed on.

The men started a fire and then roasted the fishes. When it was cooked, they congratulated each other for a good feast and made fun of the silly villager that tried to fool them. When they took a bite from their meal, they were very much surprised. It was the best tasting fish they ever tasted in their whole life. It was heavenly and strangely, made them hungry for more. They both speculated that the villager must want the fishes to himself.

A queer thing happened however. The men realized that as they eat more, they become hungrier. So they went back to the lake to catch more fish and cook them but still it could not satisfy their stomach. They were very hungry beyond words that they start to catch more fish and ate them raw. But this made them starving to death that they could not think straight and started gnawing at each other’s arm…then each other’s leg... They kept eating, munching, chewing until nothing was left of them.

The morning arrived and when the old villager passed by the lakeshore he did not see a single soul.

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