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Elsa was a small and beautiful fish. She had rainbow-coloured stripes on her body that sparkled in the sunlight.

She lived in Chandan Lake with other fishes. There were many houses near the lake and in the evening, people came at the lake for a stroll or to rest.

Dory was Elsa’s closest friend. They were always together. One day, while searching for food near the bank of the lake, Elsa saw some people strolling around.

“Dory, I am bored living in this lake. We have to search far and wide for food. Why can’t we go and enjoy life?” asked Elsa.

“What are you saying, Elsa? We have everything that we need here. I like my life here in the lake very much. We are free to roam around and the water is clean. We have friends here,” replied Dory.

“Oh! Is this what you call life? With whole day’s hard work, we manage a small frugal meal and we don’t have a proper place to live,” Elsa said sulking.

“But at least we can live here in freedom. The whole lake is our home. We can go wherever we want and do whatever we wish,” said Dory.

“I don’t want to stay here even for a minute. If I get a chance I will surely
go out into the outside world,” retorted Elsa.

After a few days they were again near the bank of the lake. They saw two young men doing something there. Elsa stopped.

“Dory, see there. What are those two men doing there? Come, let us go and see,” said Elsa.

“Don’t be crazy,” cried Dory. “They are putting up a net to catch fish. Let us get out of here quickly or we will get caught in it.”

“What do they do with the fish they catch?” asked Elsa still rooted to the place.

“They keep colourful fish like us in an aquarium in the house for decoration,” Dory explained and started swimming away.

“I am also beautiful and colourful. If they catch me, will they also put me in their house in an aquarium?” asked Elsa getting excited.

“Don’t be mad! If you get caught, you will lose all your freedom. Our safety is in running away from here as fast as possible,” Dory said trying to get Elsa away.

But Elsa did not listen. She swam towards the net as she desperately wanted to get out of the lake.

At the first opportunity, she jumped inside the net.

The young men were very glad to find the beautiful rainbow-coloured fish in the net. One of them took her to his house and put her into an aquarium. It was filled with fresh clean water and beautifully decorated plants. The floor was covered with colourful pebbles and the electric bulb gave a soft blue light.

“Ah ha! How peaceful and neat this place is!” said Elsa delightfully as she swam round in the aquarium.

After some time, the man came again and put some food in it. Elsa found the food delicious. Elsa smiled to herself, “How tasty this food is and so easily got without any hard labour.”

The aquarium was near the window. Elsa could see the lake clearly. She remembered her friend Dory. “How nice it would be if Dory was here!” She felt sorry for Dory.

Elsa had everything in the aquarium. She roamed in it the whole day and was given food on time. She did not have to search for it. The visitors to the house came to see her and all praised her beauty. Elsa felt very happy and proud when she heard them.

She was very happy.

One day while swimming around she became breathless. “I think my weight has increased,” she thought and looked at her body. The colourful stripes were losing their glow. For the first time she felt choked and suffocated.

She looked out towards the lake and started crying. “All my beauty is fading away in this small aquarium and I have become fat and lazy. Life in the lake was much better. Oh! If only I could go back to to the,” she sighed.

Elsa remembered Dory’s words and felt sorry that she had not listened to her. She wanted to get out of the aquarium and go back to the lake. She tried to dash against the glass sides of the aquarium to break them. But it was of no use.

She stopped eating and kept thinking of a way to get out.

One day she was in a corner of the aquarium. She heard someone coming. She lay down on the floor flat on her back and stopped breathing.

The man looked at Elsa and tried to shake and wake her. But she stayed there without moving. “Looks like this fish is dead,” said the man. He took her out and threw her back in the lake.

Elsa’s joy had no bounds back in the lake. She took deep breaths and went out to look for her friend Dory.

“Dory, where are you? See, I have come back to you,” Elsa called again and again.

Hearing Elsa’s calls, Dory came running to her. At first, she did not believe her eyes as it was difficult to recognize her, but then hugged her lovingly.

“Elsa, how lonely I was, after you left,” cried Dory with tears in her eyes.

“Yes, my friend, I made a big mistake by not listening to you. I have understood the importance of freedom. The open air of the lake is something very different. In spite of all the facilities in the aquarium, I felt suffocated there. I became trapped. I will never think of going away from here.” Elsa said.

“I am happy that you are back,” replied Dory.

And both friends left for a long swim in the lake.