Archana was frantic with worry. How ever was she to find George? He could be just about anywhere.

“George!” Archana cried out. “George!”

Nobody answered as Archana frantically searched the house. “George!”

The short, stubby, five-year-old frantically pushed chairs and tables around. She peered under the divan and threw the pillows propped up upon it to the floor. “George!”

“Oh stop it, brainless. I’m trying to work,” Archana’s older brother, Vivesh, scolded as he completed his homework.

Archana gave him a pleading look, her dark brown eyes brimming with tears. “Help me find George,” she said as she peered behind the television set.

“I don’t have time for little kids’ stuff.” Vivesh was a two years older than his sister. “I’m doing maths. This is far more important than George! 4+4 equals…”

“Eight. Okay? 4+4=8. Now help me find George!”

“George? That worm you’ve been carrying around?”

“George is not a worm. He’s a caterpillar…a helpless little baby caterpillar!” Archana cried, remembering the beautiful yellow and black striped caterpillar she had rescued from the road. How it had got there, she had no clue, but far be it for her to leave a helpless creature on the busy streets. And so she had scooped up the tiny thing and brought it home. “Oh, George, where are you? You have to be here somewhere.”

Missing

“Somebody probably stepped on it. Good too. We don’t need worms in the house,” Vivesh mocked.

Archana burst into tears. “You’re mean!” she cried and ran outside. There, she dropped to her knees and covered her face. She remembered the first day she had brought George home. “You look hungry, little caterpillar,” she had said as she held him in her hand. “My teacher said that caterpillars eat leaves. Come. Let’s get you some.” And so she had carried out her rescued friend to the trees out front. At first, she had picked several types of leaves. But it was the last bunch that had proved to be the little guy’s favourite. Archana had laughed, watching him eat. “Well, I can’t keep calling you ‘little caterpillar’ now, can I? You are going to have to have a name… I think I’ll call you George.” And although many might not have believed the little girl, Archana was certain that George had looked up and smiled.

That had been only two weeks ago. Now, George was gone, and Archana did not think she could survive the heartbreak. Slowly, Archana uncovered her face, stood up, and walked over to collect some leaves from George’s favourite tree. With leaves neatly piled in her left hand, she could not help but think about how much George had grown during his time with her. Each time he had had a growth spurt, he had shed his skin. Archana had felt so proud to have been raising such a healthy caterpillar, but he was still a baby. He still had growing to do, did he not? How would he get along in the big world without her?

Slowly, Archana walked inside and placed the leaves on the table.

“What’s that rubbish for?” Vivesh asked?

“Leaves for George when he comes back,” Archana said. Then in a whisper, she said, “I’m waiting for you, George. I love you.”

Every day for the next two weeks, Archana checked to see if George had come for the leaves. Every day, she was disappointed.

“I think it’s time to get rid of the leaves,” Archana’s mother said.

“But, Amma, I…” Then, as Archana choked back her tears, a beautiful black and orange butterfly sat on her shoulder. “George?” Archana cautiously asked. “Did you see that? He smiled!”

Archana’s mother laughed. “He wasn’t missing, Archana. He was changing. You fed him so well that he grew up and became a butterfly!”

Then George gently grazed Archana’s cheek as if he were kissing her and flew out the open window. Archana smiled. “Amma, I gave George wings.”