The Wedding Chain
It had been made-to-order to a special design that father gave to the goldsmith. The chain had bits of twisted gold interspersed with five black beads, followed by another bit of twisted gold chain.
She loved it not only because it was so beautiful, but also because it had been given to her with so much of love. Grandmother said, "All married ladies should wear one. The black beads protected one against the evil eye". Rahul and Ritu had seen it around their mother's neck for as long as they could remember.
"Where's my chain gone?" asked Mother one day. She had been combing out the tangles in her hair before making a long plait. "It isn't around my neck." Ritu heard her and came running. "What's the matter, Mummy?" "I can't find my wedding chain."
Mother was most upset. Ritu could see tears forming in her eyes. It was a serious matter. Grown- ups rarely cried in front of children. "Wipe your tears, Mummy," said Ritu giving her a tight hug. "Don't worry. We'll soon find it for you".
She called out to Rahul. He walked in shaking a loose tooth with his fingers. "What happened?" he asked. "Ritu what have you lost now?" He was very fond of his little sister, who was just two years younger to him. She hero-worshipped her brother, followed him everywhere like a puppy dog and tried to imitate all that he did.
"Ritu, you are always losing something or the other. You don't put things back in their place and forget where you left them. Or you get a bright idea of keeping things in a very safe place and then cannot remember the safe place when you need it the next time. What is it this time?"
"Rahul," said Mother, "it's not Ritu who's lost something, this time, it's me."
"Must be contagious then, this habit, like the chicken-pox I brought home from school." Rahul had still not grasped the seriousness of the situation.
"I've lost my wedding chain. I can't seem to find it anywhere," said Mother. "Will you help Ritu to hunt for it?" "Yes, of course," said Rahul. He stopped shaking the loose tooth.
"When did you see it last?"
"I don't remember," said Mother. "I've got so used to seeing it around my neck, that I only just noticed when I came to plait my hair." "Have you looked in the bedroom?" asked Rahul. Ritu at once dived under the bed. She looked all around the floor.
"Nothing but dust here," she said. "The maid is not doing a very good job of sweeping under the beds."
"That increases our chances of finding it, silly," said Rahul.
He was imagining himself with a long overcoat and a magnifying glass, one eye like a miniature Sherlock Holmes. "Let's hunt in the bed clothes." To mother's dismay, the two of them turned the pillows and bed covers upside down. They didn't find anything.
"Follow me to the kitchen," Rahul instructed Ritu. "Maybe mother dropped it by mistake when she was preparing breakfast."
Ritu obediently followed Rahul to the kitchen while mother was settling the bed again. They looked into each and every nook and corner. Inspected the vessels and passed some more comments on the quality of work their maid did. The wedding chain was not in the kitchen.
They looked in the living room. Under the carpet. Behind the television and the telephone. They shook out books that were lying face down that mother was reading. They even very nearly ripped apart her knitting.
"Nothing here," said Ritu alarmed at what Rahul was doing. "I can see it's not in her knitting. Don't drop any stitches, please or she'll be mad at us."
"Merely checking, merely checking," said Rahul. "Must be thorough in our work. Mustn't leave a stone unturned." "Go turn over stones, then, but leave her knitting alone," said his sister. Rahul thought it was good advice.
They searched every single room in the house but the wedding chain seemed to have vanished into thin air. Eventually, mother sent them out to play in the garden.
"Let's play something new," said Ritu.
The Wedding Chain [Stories for kids]
By Thelma J. Talloo; Illustrations by Sudheer Nath
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