Delma encounters sharks

Summer was about to end and it was back to school time — Delma's favourite time of the year. Like every year, Delma was one of the students who was going to Aquatic School to help teachers set up classes for the new academic year.

When she reached Aquatic School she saw her favourite teacher Olly the octopus, principal of the Aquatic School.

"Good morning Sir," said Delma respectfully.

"Oh Delma, we have all been waiting for you," said Olly with a worried frown on his face.

"Is everything okay, Olly Sir?" asked Delma, concerned.

"I'm afraid everything is not okay. We might have to shift schools," replied Olly.

"Why," asked Delma shocked.

"The sharks have come," said Olly with a shake of his head.

"The sharks?" asked Delma.

"Yes. The sharks came and threatened us today. They want to take over the Aquatic School premises and start a school for their young sharks here," explained Olly.

"But how can they just do that?" demanded Delma her face etched with confusion. "Maybe we can negotiate. How can we simply step back and let them take over our school? Where will we go?"

"Delma, you are the lake protector and the largest of all the animals in this lake but still, you are no match for the sharks. They are aggressive and sharp; their sense of smell and hearing is very acute. There is no sense arguing with them. All we can do is find a new premises for the Aquatic School. The new term is due to start next week." said Olly, worriedly.

"I thought sharks lived in the ocean?" said Sally the salmon who had swum up to them and heard their conversation.

"Yes, sharks generally live in salt water but the river sharks and bull sharks can also live in freshwater," explained Olly.

"This group of river sharks have recently found this lake and they thought the Aquatic School would be ideal for their young."

"But can't the sharks also study with us?" inquired Delma.

"It's not as simple as that. Firstly, they don't want to do that and I also believe that our fish students would be constantly bullied by them if they were to study together with you all," clarified Olly.

"Let me do something. I will go talk to them," said Delma. "As lake protector I should take a stand."

"Well, you can talk to us now," said a menacing voice from behind.

Delma, Olly and Sally turned to see a group of huge fish with the sharpest teeth.

Delma's mouth dropped open. These were not fish. They looked liked monsters.

"Uh.." Delma stammered. "I...I was just suggesting that we can share the school premises. That way we don't have to hunt for a new school venue and you can also educate your sharks. We have the best teachers at Aquatic School."

"Oh, do you?" said one of the sharks with a smirk.

"Let's do so," another shark said with a sly grin. "It will be fun to make these puny fish run our errands and do our homework." And with a cackling laugh the group swam away.

Delma looked aghast. Olly was quiet and then he said, "Delma, what have you done? How will the small fishes be able to survive with these huge sharks?"

"I...I'm sorry, Sir," stuttered Delma. "I didn't realize that sharks were so menacing. I don't know how we got into this mess?"

So the week passed in anxious anticipation as Olly the octopus, his staff of teachers and students prepared for the new term.

The first day of the term dawned dull and gloomy. They sky was overcast and there was a light drizzle as Delma swam to Aquatic School, her heart heavy with dread.

When she reached Aquatic School, all she could see were sharks swimming around harassing the smaller fish. She saw one shark slap her jellyfish friends.

"What are you doing," Delma demanded as she quickly swam to the jellyfish which was splattered against a rock. Delma helped her jellyfish friends and guided them to a shelf where they could lie down. Once she saw that they were safe, she turned angrily to the shark which had slapped her friends.

"If we are all going to study together this is not the way you should treat your school mates," said Delma, her voice trembling with ire.

"This is the way we plan to study here," replied the shark fiendishly. "We asked you all to empty the premises but you tried to be over-smart and suggested that we share the school. So be it. Now bear with it," the shark added. With that, the shark swam away leaving Delma with her injured jellyfish friends.

"Delma, how will we survive with these sharks?" moaned one of the jellyfish. A crowd of fish had gathered around Delma.

"Delma, what will we do? One shark bit me this morning when I didn't carry his books for him," whimpered Sally the salmon.

Delma was left speechless. She went to find Olly who was breaking up a fight between a group of flying fish and sharks.

"Sir, you were right. We have to find another school for ourselves. Our students will become demoralized if they have to suffer this constant humiliation at the hands of the sharks," said Delma urgently.

"Yes, let's do so. I will talk to one of the senior shark teachers and try to reason with her. In the meantime you go to the reefs and see if there are a series of caves where we can temporarily set up classes for our students," answered Olly.

So Delma set off with the flying fish to the reefs. They found a set of linked caves which could serve the purpose. They swam back to Aquatic School where Olly was waiting for them.

"I have spoken to the shark teachers and thankfully they also agree that the sharks are getting distracted and are not concentrating on their studies because they keep bullying and harassing the smaller fish," declared Olly in relief.

Soon the Aquatic School teachers gathered the smaller fish and left for the reefs. The caves were small and proved to be congested for all the fish students but it was better than being in constant fear of the wretched sharks.

"I miss our old school. I'm sorry I could not stand up to the sharks. I was not a good protector," remarked Delma wistfully to Olly as the school day came to an end.

"It's okay, Delma. Being flexible and adapting to circumstances is not cowardice. All problems cannot be solved with the use of force," soothed Olly. "The situation called for being sensible and tolerant and that's what we did. If we had also resorted to violence and fights like the sharks it would have meant that we are demeaning ourselves and falling to their level."

"I guess you are right," spoke Delma as she pondered over Olly's wise and experienced words.

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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