Tim walked past the mill pond every day when he went home from school. Not exactly, to be completely honest. Rather, he took a detour of about ten minutes to visit his friend. He had called it Red because it was a rudd, a small fish with distinctive features. It may seem strange, but Tim, at just ten years old, had a keen sense for nature. He felt deeply connected to her. Most people probably don’t put that down until later in life. In any case, Tim was still able to simply perceive nature as it was, without making any claims. So long ago he had made it a habit to linger on the jetty for a while and watch the water. One day something happened that few people were allowed to experience, but most people would not have had the patience or the lack of intention either.
A rudd stuck its head out. Tim wasn’t sure what to do. So he talked to the fish. Calming, gentle and connecting. At last he stretched out his hand carefully, but the fish didn’t swim away, but let its belly be scratched, which he clearly enjoyed. After a few minutes he swam away again. The next day Tim had brought food with him, which he took from the supplies his father had at home. Tim dropped one of the small pellets into the water and shortly afterwards the rudd swam up. The game was now repeated daily. Tim could hardly wait for the school bell to announce the end of class and for him to go visit his friend. But then it happened that he got sick. He had to stay in bed for seven days so that he could not visit Red, as he had called him. Finally it was time again. But when he came to the mill pond that day, he was shocked to find that a fisherman was sitting on the jetty. A fish had just bitten and Tim had to watch how the unknown young man pulled a wriggling water dweller out of the water. Carefully carry Tim closer. He was sure it was Red. His little friend with the flippers writhed and was clearly fighting for his life. So Tim took all his courage and approached the fisherman.
„What are you doing with my friend?“ He asked in a voice that expressed his despair very well. The person addressed raised his head and looked at the boy in amazement.
„What nonsense is that supposed to be?“, He replied, shaking his head, „This is a fish and not a friend.“
„But he is a living, sentient being,“ replied Tim, „Don’t you see how he desperately gasps for air and is in pain?“
„Fish feel no pain,“ came the angler’s prompt reply, as quickly as if it were the last word of wisdom.
“Fish feel pain just as much,” Tim rebuked him. “They live in social associations, look after their young, depending on the species, communicate with each other, enter into partnerships and have fun.” The angler then removed the hook from his sensitive lips of the fish and threw it back into the water.
„How do you want to know that?“ He wanted to know now.
„My father is an ichthyologist,“ replied Tim, „I know a lot about fish and other aquatic life.“
„Well then, I’ll believe you, even if I’m skeptical,“ said the fisherman.
“Imagine how you would feel if someone suddenly stuck a hook through your lips, took you somewhere, where you couldn’t breathe. Wouldn’t you be terrified? „, Tim asked.
“And you mean I’ll do that with the fish?” The angler wanted to know.
„Yes, that’s exactly what you do,“ replied Tim, „But I want to show you something.“ With that he threw a pellet into the water and a few moments later Red was there, devoured the food and then let himself be petted with relish, as he is used to was. The fisherman watched in amazement. He could hardly believe his eyes.
„That probably happens because we live in the air and they live in the water,“ he said thoughtfully, „They are so far from us.“
„It is all the more important to get to know her,“ replied Tim with a smile, before saying goodbye and walking home. The fisherman also went his way. Except that he didn’t want to be an angler anymore.