Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Leo Tolstoy tells in one of his folk stories of an aged man who overheard the conversation of three women at a well. The first one to speak described her son in glowing terms – how he surpassed all others in dexterity and skill. The second one of the three mothers, not to be outdone, told of her son’s beautiful voice – how he thrilled the young and the old with notes as sweet as a nightingale. The two turned to the third one, asking, "In what talent does your son excel?"

She simply answered, "My son is an ordinary boy, he has no special gifts of which I could report."

The aged man followed the three on their way back to the village. The heavy buckets of water they bore made them stop for a rest. Their sons came running to meet them. The first one turned one somersault after another. The women stood admiring the young entertainer. The second boy sang like a melodious nightingale. His singing moved the women; their eyes were dimmed with tears. But the third one of the sons ran to his mother, picked up the heavy buckets and carried them home for her.

The three women inquired of the aged man, "What do you say about our sons?"

"Your sons?" responded the astonished man, "I saw but one. I recognised only one single son."

(Courtesy: East and West Series, March 2004)