Ch-1,The Lost Child by Mulk Raj Anand

                                                                         MOMENTS Ch 1 – NCERT Class -9

About the author:

Mulk Raj Anand (12/10/1905- 28/9/2004) is famous for his stories related to the traditional society and the poor of India. He wrote short stories and novels portraying the lives of the downtrodden in a sympathetic and realistic manner. His famous works include- ‘Coolie’, ‘Untouchable’, ‘The Village’, ‘The Big Heart’ and ‘Seven Ages of Man’.

Summary

The author begins the story with the description of a spring morning when the village lot, dressed in a medley of colours set off to visit the temple fair. A child with his parents also sets off for the fair, excited and gay. He is attracted towards the toy shops along the way, but his father gets angry when he demands to buy them. His mother however is in a pleasant mood and tries to distract him by showing him the mustard field that shines like liquid gold in the golden sun. The boy is enthralled with the dragon flies, butterflies and the lone black bee that are seen to be fluttering gaily over the mustard fields. He also becomes engrossed watching the insects and worms along the footpath,  as a result  he lags behind his parents.

When his parents went to sit down in a grove, he runs towards them and is greeted by a shower of flowers which he collects in his little hands. Soon he hears the cooing of the dove and shouts “The Dove! The Dove!’; forgetting the petals in his hands. Then he capers around the banyan tree in mirth. His parents call him, and then lifts him, up before proceeding towards the fair.

When they reach the fair the child sees many things at the fair, such as sweets like; gulab jamun, rasgulla, burfi, and jalebies. He wants to have burfi as it is his favourite. Next, he yearns for a garland of gulmohur; followed by rainbow coloured balloons. Then, he takes fancy to the snake charmer’s music. Although the boy wants all these things, he moves ahead without waiting for an answer as he knows that his parents would not digress, no matter how much he pleaded.

When he reaches the swirling roundabout, he badly wants to have a ride on it, and turns around boldly to get permission from his parents. It is then that he realizes that he had lost his parents. He cries out and tears start rolling from his eyes. Panic-stricken he runs about here and there, not knowing where to go or what to do. His yellow turban becomes untied and his clothes mud-stained. He seeks his parents everywhere but is unable to find them. He goes near the temple and is pushed around in the crowd. Just as he is about to be trampled, he is rescued by a kind man who picks him up.

The man tries to console him and offers him all the things he had wanted one after the other; but the child is inconsolable and wants nothing except his parents.

Theme of ‘The Lost Child’

The theme of the story is the deep relationship of pure love between parents and a child. No material possession can compensate for the loss of close ones.

Title of ‘The Lost Child’

The title of ‘The lost Child’ approprialtely reflects the flow of the story. On one hand it foreshadows the incident in the story, while on the other hand it tells us about the desires of a child to possess everything he sets his eye upon in this material world. The lost child symbolizes entire mankind in pursuit of material things. Humans take for granted the precious blessings in life which are free. It is only with the loss of these blessings that one realizes its true value. It is then that all material things lose their significance and one helplessly seeks to regain what they have lost.

THINK ABOUT IT

Q1. What are the things the child sees on his way to the fair? Why does he lag behind?

Ans. On his way to the fair, the child first comes upon toy shops that were lined on the way. In an attempt to distract the child his mother shows him the golden mustard field, full of dragon flies intercepting the flight of a lone black bee. There are also butterflies fluttering about in search of nectar. He also sees insects and worms which come out to enjoy the spring sunshine.

The child lags behind his parents as he is fascinated by the toys in the toyshop and by the dragonflies, butterflies in the mustard field.

Q2. In the fair he wants many things. What are they? Why does he move on without waiting for an answer?

Ans. The child sees many things at the fair, such as sweets like gulab jamun, rasgulla, burfi, and jalebies. He wants to have burfi as it was his favourite. Next, he yearns for a garland of gulmohur; followed by tempting rainbow coloured balloons. Then he takes fancy to the snake charmer’s music. Finally, he badly wants to have a ride on the roundabout.

Although the boy wants all these things, he moves ahead without waiting for an answer as he knows that his parents would not concede no matter how much he pleaded.

Q3. When does he realise that he has lost his way? How have his anxiety and insecurity been described?

Ans. When the little boy receives no reply to his request for a ride on the roundabout, he turns about and realizes that he is lost in the fair.

His fear and insecurity has been brought about in an expressive manner. On finding out that he had lost his way the boy cries out and tears start rolling from his eyes. Panic-stricken he runs about hither- thither, not knowing where to go or what to do. His yellow turban becomes untied and his clothes become mud-stained.

Q4. Why does the lost child lose interest in the things that he had wanted earlier?

Ans. The lost child becomes disinterested in things that had appealed to him earlier as he has lost his parents, who are more precious than anything else,  and wants them back.

Q5. What do you think happens in the end? Does the child find his parents?

Ans. The author has left the story open ended, leaving it to the reader to decide what happens to the child. In my opinion the child would be united with his parents.

The man who rescued the child from the crowd must have helped him find his parents at the end.

Talk about it

How to ensure not to get lost?

To make sure that one is not lost, one must-

  1. Memorize home address.
  2. Learn phone number by heart
  3. Keep an identity card
  4. Children should hold on to parents
  5. Parents should be vigilant