The Magic Fish

AD’s grandma is originally from Kursk, Russia, and would always tell her fables and fairytales whenever AD came to visit. She has fond memories with her cousins sitting around her grandma as she would tell these stories in a thick accent. Her grandma would always compare herself to Baba Yaga or make jokes about her, and the stories were a very important part of their relationship. One tale she commonly told warns of greed, through the story of the magic fish. The magic fish is an interesting variation of similar magic creatures, genies or the like, that grant wishes in fables.

“There’s a poor husband and wife living in Russia. The wife is nasty woman, and the man is hard worker, sweet, and very poor. They don’t have much money, and he is a fisherman. (fish hard to find in Russia, informant notes) One day they have a big fight, she yells at him “Why cant you do anything, you piece of garbage!” He feels bad and so he grabs fishing gear and goes down to the body of water, sad. He catches a fish and reels him in. The fish says “throw me back in the water, I’m not ready to die.” Surprised that the fish is talking, the man throws him back.

The fish then says “let me repay you for throwing me back and saving me. I’ll grant some wishes for you. What do you want?”

“Well, my wife wants a new house”

He goes home, and has amazing new house.

The wife is amazed, and says “Go back tomorrow and ask for 15 horses.”

The next day he finds the fish.

“What do you want now?”

“She wants 15 horses.”

“Ok, when you go home, there will be 15 horses.”

Th man goes home, sure enough, finds 15 horses there.

The wife says, “This is fantastic, I want you to go back to that fish tomorrow, and tell the fish that I want to be queen, with you as my king.”

“Don’t you think that’s asking a lot?” says the husband.

She gets angry, so he goes back to the fish once more.

“Well what does your wife want now?”

“She wants to be queen.”

“Ok, when you go home wife will be queen.”

The man goes home, and his wife is now the queen. She is getting greedier and greedier, and asks him to go back again to the fish, asking him to “Go and ask for all the wealth in the country, everything!”

So the man goes back to fish and says, “I want you to take everything away from my wife.”

He goes home and has nothing. The wife , furious, asks what happened.

“I don’t know, I guess the fish died,” he explains.

“Oh you stupid man,” she yells. She decides to go to find the fish herself.

“What do you wish for, lady?”

“I want everything.”
“Okay, go home and you’ll find everything.”

She goes home and immediately dies. The man lives happily ever after.