Today's Beautiful Gem: `Lost Child' by Mulkraj Anand retold by me.

       Mulkraj Anand is a great Indian writer in English. He wrote novels
like "Coolie", "Two leaves and a bud" and "Untouchable" and many short
stories. "Lost child" is a short story. I read this long long ago, nearly
forty years ago! I don't remember the names and details. I remember only
the theme. What follows is my version of the story, not as you may find
in Mulkraj Anand's original.
       It was the day of the fair. People from several villages had
assembled on the fair-grounds. There were sellers and there were buyers
and there were on-lookers. It was real fun. Lots of items were being
sold. Glass bangles, colourful saris, rice, wheat, flour, cattle, toys for
the children and many other things were spread out on the ground. There
was even a horse for sale! There were also sweet dishes, fruit juices and
coconuts as food for the tired.
       The place was really crowded. There was a woman and a child was
tagging along with her talking incessantly. The child was delighted
at the sights, sounds and smells. May be, this was his first visit to
the fair. There were people all around. The toys, the balloons, the big
wheel with wooden horses on which children were taking rides, the
magician's tricks, the snake-charmer's _been_, etc.-- these were all too
much for the little child. He turned around excitedly to ask his mother
about something. But there was no trace of his mother anywhere. The
child began to run around and cried aloud `maa maa'. Maa was not be found
anywhere. Tears began to trickle down his cheeks. The heat, the dust
and the tears made him an object of pity. Somebody asked the child: "Why
are you crying? Where is your mother?" "I have lost her." "Don't
worry, I'll take you to the police." So saying, the old man took him to
the police tent. On the way he was given a candy. The taste of the candy
temporarily diverted the attention of the child. After a while, he began
to cry again. The policeman was pointing towards different women, some
beautiful and some wearing colourful saris. The boy told him: "That is not
my maa. My mother is very beautiful." Finally, the mother, who was also
looking for her missing son came to the tent. The child ran to the woman,
plain and simple, but not really beautiful, and hugged her. The lost child
and the lost mother were at last reunited again.

          To every child, the mother is the most beautiful person in the world!

Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao