Fishy superstitions

Bear with me on this one. I have been pondering it over the past day.

My wife, who is a special education teacher her in Thailand, had a friend she went to university with who also studied to be a special education teacher. But instead when when this lady graduated she went to work in the family business. Her friends would have understood this if the family business was prosperous, but this girl came from a house of poverty. Her family was made up of fish mongers. They sold fish that they raised themselves in flooded paddies. Her friend also had a young daughter The child was either born out of wedlock or the father abandoned the family. I couldn’t get the whole story, but what was clear was that my wife’s friend and her daugher lived with the maternal grandmother and the child was fatherless.

Recently, tragedy has struck on several levels.

Earlier this week my wife’s friend was traveling by a motorcycle and was involved in an accident with a big rig truck. She was killed instantly and lost the top of her skull in the incident. On the very same day, and I’m assuming this had to do with all of the commotion and confusion that went on with death of her mother, but the child fell into one of the flooded paddies serving as a fish pond and even though the water was shallow the girl lost consciousness and was thought dead. When she was finally able to have been revived at a hospital she’d suffered from severe brain damage and her family was told that the girl will likely be left not only blind, but mentally retarded. This was a result of lack of oxygen to the brain.

Like I said this story is more than unfortunate. It is downright tragic. But the story that my wife and her friends believe is the oddest thing I have heard in a long while.

A few years after my wife’s friend abandoned teaching and returned to her home village two of their classmates passed through for a visit. They saw that part of this woman’s job in selling the fish was first to kill the fish, which was accomplished by whacking the fish on what we might call their forehead. (This is the way garr fish are killed back home, so I get the picture.) The woman’s classmates remarked to her that this was a very cruel way to treat the fish. She agreed but said unfortunately even though she herself finds this a cruel way to kill the fish, that is just simply the way it is done

So the story here is this:

Pinkan’s friends believe that her friend’s untimely death, apparently resulting from a whack to her forehead in the accident with the truck, is a result of bad karma for killing the fish in such a cruel way – by whacking them on their "foreheads". They believe also that the coincidence of the daughter becoming retarded from the near drowning incident on the same day of her death is also karmic payback for this woman having been trained at university to help retarded people but then never doing it. My wife believes the first bit but not sure about the second part.

Nonetheless, it never ceases to amaze me what superstitions supposedly university educated people might still believe in this day and age.

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