The story of the Ugly Duckling...A Reflection
I heard about the story of Ugly Duckling, when I was 5 years old. Hope you all have read that too. If not I will tell you once again over here:
“Once upon a time, there was a farmer, whose farm was near a small pond. He had many animals in his farms, hens, roosters, ducks, cows and pigs. On one beautiful summer day, one of the duck was about to hatch her ten eggs. One by one all the eggs broke upon except one big egg. The farmer was excited to see 9 new members added to his farm. He was waiting for the tenth one, but the last one was taking a lot of time. This made farmer restless and he started cribbing on the last egg.
At last the egg broke and from it came out an ugly duck. It was grey, bigger and stronger than other baby ducks. All the animals started laughing at him. They all called him Ugly Duckling. Ugly Duckling was so sad.
Few days passed by, mother duck took all of them to river. All the ducks jumped in and so did the Ugly Duckling. All the ducks swam so fast, but ugly duckling was slow. They all laughed on him again. Mother duck saw that ugly duckling was sad, but she kept quiet. In the evening they came back home.
The farm yard was a noisy one. The poor duckling was so unhappy there. The hens pecked him, the rooster flied at him, the ducks bit him, and the farmer kicked him. He always felt he was not the part of this group. He felt he was so ugly, so weak and so not like his other brothers and sisters.
He went to his mother one night and said how he was feeling. Mother duck, understood his feeling and asked him to accept his weaknesses and not try what his other brothers and sisters were doing. Since that day, he became sadder; he lost all hope and decided to go away from there. And so one day he ran away.
He reached near the big river on the other side of the farm. He saw many beautiful big birds swimming there. Their feathers were so white, their necks were so long, and their wings were so pretty. The poor duckling wanted to be with them. He wanted to stay and watch them. He wanted to be beautiful like them. But he kept quiet and stayed away from the river.
Winter came and everything was covered with snow. The river got covered with ice. Ugly duckling stayed near the banks under the tree with wild birds. He was not happy with them too. He was so alone.
After a few months, spring comes once again. The sun shines warmly. Everything was fresh and green. One morning the ugly duckling saw the beautiful swans again. He wanted so much to swim with them in the big river. But he was so afraid of them and the river. He felt like giving up his life. So he ran into the river to die. He looks into the water. There in the water he finds a beautiful swan. It was him! He was no more an ugly duckling. He was a beautiful white swan and he lived happily ever after”
Now, few days’ back I was reflecting on this story and found that “he lived happily ever after” wasn’t correct. The ugly duckling died took rebirth again and again. Sometimes he took birth as a girl child and was killed as soon as she was born, sometime he took birth in a poor community and never left that community, thinking he will remain poor (he is not a sawn). Yes at times, he was born as a poor fisher man’s boy and left to become the missile man of a country but this happened in very less cases. But most of the time the Ugly Duckling died thinking he was an ugly duckling.
Now what happened at each birth may be quite dissimilar but if we ponder on a universal basis, the few reasons which don’t let the ugly duckling know about its real self (swan) are:
1. Dearth of Support from family members: What if mother duck, instead of telling the poor duckling to accept his weakness, have told him to focus on his strengths; don’t you think the poor duckling would have cherished being a swan a little earlier? This happens in many of our lives. Most of our family members are caring, no doubt they take care, but usually they help us to improve our weaknesses, rather than build our strong points. A painter dies in a child’s heart learning and taking expensive tuition (for which the parent work real hard too to pay the fees) of Maths & Science, rather than joining a fine arts class.
2. Societies’ set rules and paradigms: How can a duck not swim fast, how can a duck be strong grey and ugly unlike others? Society defines the way we need to be, it defines the particular way we should behave and grow. Our community defines our career. If you are from a family of doctors and engineers, they want you to take the same profession. I know lot of changes in this mentality have been seen in last 2 decades but still majority of us are dominated by the social rules and obligations. A swan dies every day thinking that it’s a bad duckling.
3. Our own apprehensions: What if the poor duckling did not run away from farm? If he would have stayed all his life believing he was the odd one, the bad one out of all his fellow members? What if his fear about the big river and swans did not let him run away?
The answer is-he would never have made his successful story in the children’s book. Similarly many of us fear the change. No one promise us that the change will be easy but we all know the change would be worth trying. Our own apprehensions don’t let us take risk and bring the change.
4. Our own acceptance of our current status quo: the poor duckling could have stayed in the farm forever, could have accepted what his mother told, but somewhere deep down his instincts told him to be with the swan every time he saw that group. He knew he was different from his other brothers and sisters. We all have that instinct but somewhere we stop listening to it and accept our current situation. Unlucky are those of us who don’t even understand their real self. Reasons can be numerous, you need to find it yourself and overrule those reasons with your intuitions, so that even you can have a successful story like the Ugly duckling.
5. Our demotivating surroundings: The rooster, the farmer, the ducks, the hens all were with the poor duckling and were demotivating him with their behaviour. The duckling ran away from them. We all need to be away from these roosters, hens and ducks in our life. They may be the part of our current surroundings but if they can’t see our real being, they are all redundant.
Don’t let your ugly duckling die, before you transform into that beautiful swan who belongs to that beautiful river the other side of the farm, away from the rooster, the hens, the farmers and the ducks. I know mother duck will be sad but then who knows that seeing you becoming a swan she would be quietly rejoicing the moments she spent with you, may be this part was never mentioned in the story and it did happen this way only.