Toothless, the shark was posing in front of a shiny shell. He looked at his reflection and sighed, “I wish I was perfect.” He secretly envied the colourful fishes – they looked so vibrant and perfect. The orange clown fish was a movie star, and everyone wanted his autograph.
“I wish I was orange like the clown-fish,” Toothless asked his mum, out of the blue.
“Orange? My goodness, whoever heard of an orange shark,” she laughed. “But why orange in particular?”
“I want to be perfect,” said Toothless.
“Orange is not our colour, dear. You will just look ill. Grey is our colour. And you are a dashing grey,” she explained.
Toothless thought that movie stars had to look perfect and since the clownfish was a movie star, he had to be perfect.
But Toothless had been reading a lot of articles and realised that some movie stars were made to look very different from real life with the help of technology. Maybe the clown-fish was not so perfect after all or that orange?
“So how does one become perfect, if not by copying movie stars…” Toothless wondered aloud to Finfin, his little sister.
Finfin did not have the answer, so she asked, “But why do you want to be perfect?”
“Because being perfect is the perfect thing to be,” said Toothless simply.
Toothless asked his cousin, Hammerhead shark for advice. He said, “Hammy, I want to be perfect.”
Hammy thought for a moment and said with authority, “Let’s go and see Dr. Crab. He has all the answers. He has just written a book – ‘How to be happy, not crabby. It’s the No. 1 bestseller.”
“Really? I do hope he knows how to make a shark perfect,” said Toothless excitedly. Dr. Crab was a busy crustacean. But Hammy got them an appointment.
On the given day, Toothless was very nervous. He thought about his big teeth and grey body and wondered if he would ever be perfect. He mustered up his courage and swam to Dr. Crab’s cave. He spotted a tiny crab resting on a rock. He seemed to be sleeping.
“Hello Dr. Crab, I’m Toothless.”
“Ahem… If you please, Dr. Crab, I would like to be perfect.”
“Hello?” asked Toothless after waiting for a long time.
“Please come back tomorrow,” said Dr. Crab gruffly.
Toothless shook at the rude voice and swam away. He came back the next day.
“Ah, I wanted to check if you were serious. Only serious people can be perfect. Now listen carefully. You have three tasks to complete,” said Dr. Crab, when he saw Toothless again.
“The first task – wear seaweed on your head for a whole day,” said Dr. Crab.
“But…” Toothless hesitated.
“No buts… Just do as I say, if you wish to be perfect,” said Dr. Crab.
Toothless found some seaweed and placed it on his head. Everyone laughed. But Toothless kept it on.
The next day when he went back, Dr. Crab said, “Collect a thousand shells.”
Toothless searched high and low for shells. He was exhausted.
But he did it. He took the pile in his enormous mouth and placed it near Dr. Crab’s cave.
“Hmm… I will have my assistants count it. Does it have any conch shells in it? They are my favourite,” said Dr. Crab.
There was not one word of appreciation from Dr. Crab and Toothless was a little disappointed. But he was quiet.
Dr. Crab said, “Next, say goodbye to all your silly imperfect friends. Perfect creatures should only be with other perfect ones like me.”
“But you live alone,” blurted out Toothless, feeling terrified. He couldn’t live without his silly friends and family.
“Everyone can’t be as perfect as me. It does get a little lonely at the top… err… bottom of the ocean sometimes.
But I am perfect,” said Dr. Crab.
Toothless nodded. He was beginning to think being perfect was not such a perfect idea after all.
“Okay, I will give up my friends,” said Toothless, glumly.
“Here you go then. Here is your certificate,” Dr. Crab welcomed him to the perfect club.
“Toothless has passed the three levels. He is now perfect in every way’ – it read.
Toothless took his certificate and went home quietly. He did feel perfect now that he had the certificate, but did not feel happy.
A month went by.
“Why are you sad?” asked Finfin.
“I’m not sad. Just perfect. Can’t you see the difference,” Toothless snapped.
Finfin did not like to see her brother so quiet and boring. She wanted the one who always cracked jokes, worried that his teeth were too big, and helped others in times of need. She especially missed all the times they played together. But Toothless said now that he was perfect, he could not behave in a silly manner.
Toothless’s friends also got tired of asking him to come out and play.
“What’s the point of being perfect, if you can’t do anything?” asked Hammy, shaking his fins.
Finally, Toothless had had enough.
Toothless went back to Dr. Crab one day and met him.
“Well, how is it going, Champ?” Dr. Crab asked.
“I think being perfect is boring,” said Toothless, feeling sad.
“Of course it is. I could have told you that myself. You are a lovely young shark. Look at all the things you did. You swam with seaweed on your head for a whole day. And though people laughed, you did not care what they thought,” said Dr. Crab, with his eyes twinkling.
Toothless thought about Dr. Crab’s words.
“You collected a thousand shells as I asked you to. By doing this task without protesting, you demonstrated that you had focus and perseverance,” continued Dr. Crab.
“And thirdly, without your friends and family to be silly with, you saw that life isn’t worth that much. Why try to be perfect? Just be yourself,” explained Dr. Crab, with a twinkle in his eyes.
Toothless swam home merrily. He made funny faces at everyone he met on the way back. He also cracked jokes with the jellyfish, hung out with Hammy, played games with his sister Finfin and finally helped the baby turtles reach home after their school.
“I am perfectly happy being Toothless, the shark,” Toothless declared. Finfin clapped in delight.
“We love you just the way you are,” said everybody.
Dr. Crab was a clever crab after all.