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The Ugly Duckling

Once upon a time, there lived a duck on the shore of a lake.  It had recently laid a clutch of eggs.  It was sitting on those eggs patiently.  Unknown to the duck, a farmer who had found an abandoned swan’s egg had placed it in its nest.

Her patience bore fruit.  A few days later, the eggs hatched and fluffy and yellow ducklings were born.  But one of her eggs alone did not hatch.

The egg hatched two days later. When the mother duck looked at what came out.  She was shocked.  A black and ugly young chick struggled out of the egg shell.  When the other ducklings saw the dark young one, they made fun of it.

“Ugly one! Go away!”, they said.  No one wanted to be friends with such an ugly creature.  The poor young chick was extremely sad.  The mother duck tried to be kind to the grey chick.  But when the chicks would go swimming in the lake with the  other ducklings, every other chick would be bright yellow in colour, except for the dark colored chick.  She always stood apart.

No one wanted to be near her.  The months passed and the chicks grew bigger.  The grey chick went about her lonely life.

One day, the grey chick felt that she had had enough.  She went to the mother duck.  “Mom”, she said with tears, “You have been good to me.  However, I feel that I cannot be one among the others here.  I am going away to find a place for myself in the big world”.  The mother duck was shocked.  She asked the grey chick to change her mind.  She knew how tough the lake was for the young chick.  “Stay for a few more months, the other chicks may accept you”, the mother said with tears.

But the grey chick had made up her mind.  The mother duck reluctantly let her go.

The grey chick was now alone in the world.  She wandered about.  She tried to make friends with a family of rabbits who lived in the fields adjoining the lake.  The rabbits were a kind and generous lot.  The grey chick made its home with them for a few weeks.  However, it could not feel at home.  Their ways of life were different.  It bid them good bye and wandered still further.

A kind farmer passing by was surprised to see a little chick wandering alone.  He gently lifted the chick in his arms and carried her home.  The farmer’s little children were happy to have a new pet.  They gave the chick some food and kept her in a cage.  But the chick felt unhappy in her new surrounding.  She longed for the open space and freedom.  One night, she managed to get out of the cage and left the farmer’s house.

She was on her own once more.  Hungry and exposed to the elements, the helpless chick trundled along.  She managed to find a small cavity in a rock where she stayed.  She ate the moss and the weeds which grew along a lake for food.

As it went about its lonely existence, it chanced upon a flock of swans which had landed on the lake.  The swans were migratory birds.  They had made a temporary halt on their way to the northern countries during summer.

The young chick felt attracted towards the swans.  But she was scared.  “What if they make fun of me and chase me away?”, she thought for a second.  But some unknown impulse made her walk towards them.  To her surprise, the swans noticed her and went about their work.  She went close to them.  She felt strangely happy.  She did not know why.

The grey chick stayed with the swans for the next few weeks.  She was growing up fast.  She did not notice it.  She resembled the swans she lived with more and more as the days passed.    One day, the swans took to the sky.  The grey chick, driven by a strange urge, tried to imitate them.  It started flapping it swings and lo! and behold, the unbelievable happened.  It began to soar in the air.  For a moment it was startled and afraid.  However, it managed to keep aloft.   The joy of the grey chick knew no bounds.  It had grow into a graceful swan and had not known it.

The happy chick lived with the flock as a beautiful swan for many years.  It had at last found acceptance and happiness.

Children, this story tells us not to be ashamed of our unique qualities.  We may be different from others.  But that does mean that we are inferior to them.  Similarly, we should also respect others from a different background and culture.

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