My Stories – lost and found!

Today, I would like to share with you little stories of my life and my experience.  The one that I am going to share with you today is still etched in my memory as a significant event. Do let me have your thoughts and similar experience, if any.

When I was six or seven years old, I lived in Kolkata with my aunt and my cousin. My mother had passed away by then and I was living with my aunt.  My cousin was older than me, in fact she was even older than my mother; and she naturally did not treat me like a sister, but more like a little girl who was a few years older than her own son.

During Puja, those days, Kolkata had pandals (kind of temporary decorative structure in a religious context) which were not as fancy and as artful as they are today, but were quite large.  Alongside the puja, the area around the pandal would acquire the form of huge exhibition grounds where various people would set up temporary shops to sell cloths, household items, books, food, shoes, trinkets and many more things.  The added attractions were the magicians, the carousel, the tricks and illusions of “mysterious” circus girls with two heads and no legs, etc, etc.

For me, more than the pandals,  the exhibitions and the magicians always held more attraction.  In any case, at that age (I think I still am!) I would just get mesmerized by the world and the wonders it had in store for me.

On one such Puja day, I had gone to an exhibition ground with my sister and some other family members.  We were wondering around ground , I holding on to her little finger and as usual losing myself on the colours, smell, sight and sound of the fair.  My sister was quite plump and as I held on to one of  her fingers, I stopped at one place looking at a little toy train doing the round.

I still remember the toy train was colourful in yellow and brick-red, in fact even had small real engine and making all the required sounds.  As I stood there mesmerised, I wondered whether I could get on to the train, and if I did, which are the places could it take me to …..  As I imagined, I felt more and more excited and then I looked up to my cousin to tell her what I was thinking.  And to my dismay I realised that the lady whose finger I held on to, was not my cousin!!

I still remember feeling shocked and confused … I started running helter-skelter calling her name, searching for her and others, utterly dazed and panicked.  There were swarms of people all around me but none that I knew!

I don’t exactly remembered what happened then, but I remember this much that I stood at one place and was crying …. many people came to me and asked me what happened and I remember giving them my name, my cousin’s name and the home address.   But for some reason, no one stayed with me or it was possible that I refused to go with any one.

Moments were passing very slowly … tears were streaking down my cheek blinding me and I had stopped thinking.  I did not even know how much time had passed … till I heard a familiar voice – my cousin’s … calling out for me …

I ran towards her and hugged her as tightly as I could. She later narrated back at home that she did not notice when I had slipped out of her hand, and that apparently she was holding on to another child’s hand who was my height.

Today, sometimes when the memory comes back to me I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had gotten lost? where would I have been and what kind of life would I have had? who was the other child who was mistaken by cousin as me and who was the lady who I thought was my cousin?

Questioning my elders as to why were they so careless did not happen as no one asked that question.  No one also asked me how I felt or what happened to me between being lost and being found.  Of couse, people were relieved that I was found as was I.  Home never felt sweeter before, but I wish some of the above discussions had taken place.  I always had a nagging doubt that whether my being left alone was a deliberate act or not.

As I look back on that day, I wonder whether we as adults even realise how children think and feel?  Most of us love them, care for them, have their well being in our mind, but how many of us even understand children or treat them with dignity?  Most of us are used to treating children in a patronizing manner as though they do not have the ability to think and feel but are only recipients of our love, affection, control and direction.

woman, mother, thinker, citizen of the world, curious and hopeful about the world, generous, opinionated, argumentative, insightful, intuitive, psychotherapist, executive coach and organisation consultant

6 thoughts on “My Stories – lost and found!

  1. Very nicely written and very touching, Sharbori. I feel for that young girl who got lost. And, I think most of the times, we treat children to suit our own convenience, we want to play with them, we want them to sleep, we want them to eat, we want them to watch TV, we want them to be scared of something, we want them to listen to us, but, rarely have I seen people wanting to listen to their children, asking them what they want to do, I remember a very similar instance that happened to me. I was holding someone else’s hand thinking it was my uncle’s. And, I walked crying from pillar to post looking for my uncle and the rest of the family who had come to the fair. Interestingly, I have never thought what would’ve happened … I was scared and with the agony of not finding a person who is known.

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  2. @sleepyface – thank you. I wrote the blog late last night and then wondered whether I was being too harsh on the adults. This morning I read a news article on the Bangalore Mirror that a eleven year old girl has committed suicide in Mumbai yesterday. The story is that in her diary she wrote her feelings about her classmate (a boy); her mother read her diary in her absence, scolder her at home; and then went to school the next day to complain to the principal. The girl pleaded with her mother to not do so, but the mother did not listen. While the mother was waiting to meet the principal, the girl came home and took her life. eleven years old! people are guessing that the girl was afraid of being humiliated in front of everyone in class/school the next day.

    was this incident enough for the girl to take her life? was the mother right in reading her diary? what made the mother so unhappy/angry after reading about her daughter’s sentiments towards another boy? how do adults view these situations?

    these are debatable questions; but for the time being I can not help but feel sorrow for the girl who took her life and compassion for her parents who now have to live with their trauma, sorrow, guilt, bewilderment and questions.

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  3. I remember getting lost once and though I never felt like I was ‘lost’ deliberately, I remember the feeling of fear and the fact that all the adults looked so much taller and inaccessible. At least some people asked you about your name etc, if I remember correctly, in the few minutes(?) that I was lost, no one even looked at me. Maybe I wasnt as cute a kid as you! 🙂

    Really enjoyed this post.

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  4. @mekhola – trust me, you were a very cute baby and I should know it. It was possible that people knew “mommy tigress” was around and that is why they never came to you!! 🙂

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  5. Very nice narrative and thoughtful analysis. Although I do not remember being lost except for very momentary ones, one of the scariest stories that my mom narrates about me running away from home happened when I was hardly 3; so, don’t have any first hand memory of the event.
    One of our rather eccentric professors (I hope he doesn’t see this 😉 ) once mentioned that teaching us was much easier a job for him than understanding the feelings and thought process of his 7 year old kid, which he wanted to do so passionately.

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  6. thanks Monojit. actually in my humble opinion, understanding a kid’s thought process and feelings easier when we get in touch with the “kid” in ourselves. this would mean to try and understand them with their logic and rational and not from an adult perspective.

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