Fish Species or Varieties Available then ?
A number of the fish species are no more or nearly extinct. Maybe they are available in some other areas of Bengal basin where water in the lowland paddy fields are assured. But these areas do not represent the major and overall scenario in our area of West Bengal, India. Some local fishes have vanished. I am trying to find their scientific names so as to ascertain whether they have disappeared from the face of this earth or not ! Till then I am sure that some very important species have disappeared from our locality. They are my childhood memories and nostalgia! Such experiences is true in the cases of people who have seen life over 4 – 5 decades.
Paddy Fields as Source of Fishes !
In those days we had lot of fishes from the paddy field as there had been plenty of regular rainwater and people in the rainy season had no dearth of fishes of so many species! Every type of fishes had been available in the paddy field then. A lot fish species has become extinct now, thanks to pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on the field and pollution on the air having bearing on amount and timeliness of rainfall.
The marginalised poor people had plenty of fishes available to them from these paddy fields. They women from the labourers’ families used to collect fishes from the paddy fields and used to sell in the adjacent villages. They were known people. So they used to take other materials like rices( unboiled), potato, food materials (rarely) from the landholding farmers’ houses to whom they used to sell locally, all belonging to the same neighbourhood. Good social relationship were there, a relation of trust and acquaintances just.
The surrounding ponds and other water bodies were overflowed with the initial rainwater and the fishes therefrom would populate the surrounding paddy fields. A good amount of fishes used to be caught from the field while puddling operation before transplanting. As there would be plenty of water a lot of fishes still could be there to spread further to act as reservoir in the next phases.
There had been no dearth of fishes at that time absolutely! The poorest of the poor had sufficient amount of fishes available in their daily dishes, almost always at least. Gone are those golden olden days! I must say without any ambiguity! Regular beginning and continuance of rainy season had been the most important factor, I must say!