A Fish Story – Elementary Level

Perhaps you think that fishes were always fishes. And that they never lived anywhere but in the water. But if you talked to the black people in the dry parts of Australia, you would learn something quite different. They would tell you that long, long ago you would have met fishes on the land. They went from place to place, hunting all kinds of animals. If you think about how fishes are made, you will see how difficult this must have been. They had to be very clever to do it. And they would still be doing it today if a terrible thing had not happened.

One day the fish tribe were very tired after a long hunt. It was very hot, so they looked about for a nice cool place to rest. They stopped under a large tree which grew by the side of a river. They made a fire to cook some food on the very edge of the river bank. The bank was steep, and there was a deep pool of water in the river below.

While the food was cooking, they all sat down under the tree. Some of them were so tired that they started to sleep. Suddenly, a big black cloud which they hadn’t noticed before covered the sun. Then heavy drops of rain began to fall, almost putting out their fire. This was a very bad thing. They had no matches, so it would be very hard to make a new one. To make things worse, an icy wind began to blow. The poor fishes were very cold. It felt as if the wind was blowing right through their bodies.

‘This will never do,’ said Thuggai, the oldest of all the fish tribe. ‘We shall die of cold unless we can light the fire again.’ He told his sons to rub two sticks together in the hope of making a flame. They rubbed till they could not rub any more. But they could not get the sticks hot enough to burn. Many other fishes tried after them, but none could start the fire.

‘It is no use,’ cried Thuggai, at last. ‘The wood is too wet. We must just sit and wait till the sun comes out again and dries it.’

Then a very small fish, not more than four inches long, came shyly before Thuggai. ‘Ask my father, Guddhu, to try,’ he said. ‘He knows magic, and may be able to use that to light the fire.’ So Thuggai asked Guddhu.

Guddhu took some pieces of bark off a tree and placed them on top of the still smoking ashes. Then he knelt by the side of the fire and blew at it for a long time. Slowly, a small red glow appeared on the bark and smoke began to come from around its edges. When the rest of the tribe saw this they came nearer. They stood with their backs to the wind so that it wouldn’t blow out the fire. But Guddhu told them they must go to the other side. He wanted the wind to fan his fire. Soon the glow grew into a flame. The tribe watched happily as the bark caught fire.

‘More wood,’ cried Guddhu. They all ran and brought wood to put on the fire, which was now burning strongly.

‘We shall soon be warm now,’ said the people to each other. ‘Truly Guddhu is great’.

They all came nearer to the fire; nearer and nearer. Suddenly, a strong wind came down from the hills and blew the flames towards them. They quickly jumped back, quite forgetting they were standing on the steep river bank. All of them fell down towards the water below. They turned over and over till they rolled into the deep pool. Oh, how cold it seemed in that dark water which had never seen the sun! Then, in a moment, they felt warm again. The fire, pushed by the strong wind, had followed them right down to the bottom of the pool. It was burning there as strongly as ever. The fishes stood round it as they had done on the river bank above. And they found the flames to be as hot as before. That fire has been burning since that day. It has never gone out like those upon land. And now you know why, if you swim deep down into water on a very cold day, you will find it warm and pleasant underneath.