If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Stories for Haroun: A fishy tale

In the lake in front of our house, the water is clear and shiny. When you stand beside it, you can see your face, like in a mirror. And you can see lots of fish in the water. There are so many fishes: red, blue, green, yellow, pink, black, white …. There are some with long pointed tails; they are the “sword tails”. There are some with black and yellow lines on them, the “tiger fish”.

In the morning, lots of children used to swim in the lake. Some of them were such expert swimmers! They swam across the lake and came back. They shouted and laughed and had a lot of fun.

The birds in the trees around the lake woke up and joined the children. They said twit-twit, caw-caw, and so on. The whole area was filled with happy children, happy birds, and the happy noises they made.

In the beginning, the fish were scared of the kids. When boys and girls jumped into the lake, the fish dived deep into the water and went right near the bottom. They would hide there in the weeds and wait for the swimmers to go away.

But over time, the fish lost their fear. They came near the children and began playing with them. One day, a pink fish bit Haroun as he was swimming in the lake. Haroun was not hurt, he was just tickled. Slowly, the other fish also started nibbling the children. For the fish, it was great fun. But all the children were not like Haroun. Some of them started crying.

Some of kids were so scared that they stopped coming to the lake. And you know, fear spreads from one person to another, like cough and cold. After some time, there was no one at the lake in the morning.

Their parents asked them, ‘Why don’t you go to the lake? You love swimming, don’t you?’

The children said, ‘The fish bite us! We don’t want to get into the water.’

So one day, the parents of all the children sat down in a big meeting. They drank tea, ate boring thin-arrowroot biscuits and decided to put a net in the middle of the lake.

The following day, hundreds of workers came in with miles of metal nets. Two divers went into water and chased away all the fish to one corner of the lake. And after that, the men fixed the net right along the middle of the lake.

The children came back. They swam on one side of the net and all the fish were on the other side. As the little boys and girls swam, the fish watched them from the other side, their faces very, very sad!

Do you think the children were happy? Yes, they were, at the beginning. But soon, they started missing the fish. They realised, the fish had never hurt them.
They had just wanted to play.

The boys and girls were so sad that they stopped coming to the lake. One morning, the lake was all empty. Not even one child came.

So the papas and mamas sat down once again. They drank tea and ate biscuits and talked and talked. In the end, Malu’s mother, Mrs Nair, came out with a brilliant idea. She said, ‘Let’s put a door on the net. Let the fish come in through the door and play with the kids. If they bite, we will push them to the other side and close the door.’

Akash’s father jumped at the idea. And Avana’s mother! And everyone else agreed.

The next day, workers came again and fixed a door on the net.

The fish came in through the door, played with the children. And the pink fish even nibbled Haroun and his friends once in a way. But no one was ever scared of the fish any more. They knew, to become good friends, you have to fight at times!

This happened many years ago. Akash and Haroun and Malu are big men and women now. But even now, if you go to the lake in front of our house you can see a net with a door. It’s right across the middle of the lake.

Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia

7 February 2012


  1. Such a lovely tale. Children's writing is much for the adults, and ditto the opposite. Thank you!

  2. I also like the idea of the special font style you have used to narrate the story. Reminds me of Piku's diary!

  3. Just wondering if this series of episodes has a larger message for life and society. Is it a reflection of a fact of life that "Barriers with a door" is better accepted by Society than "No Barriers at all"? Does such a concept provide a sense of security and comfort to Society ? - although on deeper analysis it clearly does not make sense at all.

    Games people play.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Damu.

    I did not think about it consciously, but I am sure when I told this story to Haroun, our fondness for setting up barriers was in the back of my mind.

    You are right: “barriers with a door” doesn’t make sense at all. At best, it is a compromise. Ideally, it should be John Lennon’s world: Imagine there's no countries / It isn't hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too / Imagine all the people living life in peace.


I will be happy to read your views, approving or otherwise. Please feel free to speak your mind. Let me add that it might take a day or two for your comments to get published.