Lost and Found
Lost and Found
I was around six years old when I went on a chilling trip to the 'Queen of Hill Stations', Shimla with my parents. Not just three, we were around a dozen people that included my father's friends and distant relatives. The majestic beauty of Shimla is still captured in my eyes. Even after years, the sight of snow clad mountains, high waterfalls and lush greenery is fresh in my mind. But above all, this one incident remains absolutely unforgettable.
It was the second day of our trip and we were all wandering in the streets of the city, fondly enjoying the cool breeze and spellbinding landscapes. There was lots of fun, joy and laughter together. Although each one in the group was wonderful, my favorite was the most mischievous, Uncle Vicky. In between the walk, he spotted an ice cream parlour and challenged everyone to have an ice-cream, amidst that freezing temperature. It was exciting, thus, all of us accepted the challenge and selected our favorite flavors. I picked up a cup of vanilla ice cream overloaded with chopped candied fruits. In between the talks, my dad suggested that we visit the famous State museum, for which we need to head in the left direction from the parlour. Uncle Vicky and a few others were not convinced with the idea and suggested some other places to drop in. I chose to ignore the debate and concentrate on my ice cream, unaware of the pretty serious repercussions that followed.
After collecting our respective ice creams, all of us walked out of the parlour. But to my horror, I was walking all alone and there was no one with me. I had moved in the left direction from the parlour and probably everyone else had taken the opposite route. It all happened in a fraction of a second. I was so frightened that I was petrified for a while. Not understanding what to do, I started walking in a reverse direction, trying to hold back my tears as much as I could. Meanwhile, my parents had discovered that I was not with any of the members of the group. The fun and laughter just a few moments ago had converted into cries and worries. Dad tried to compose my mom, though he himself was completely terrified. After a little discussion, it was decided that all of them will go and search for me in different directions and will meet at a common point. Uncle Vicky headed towards the announcement room for the ‘Lost and Found’.
Here, I was now beginning to panic with my whole body trembling in fear. Just then, a family from Punjab noticed me and apprehended my situation. One of them drew himself close to me and said affectionately, “Beta, first you calm down and then tell us everything in detail”. I told them about the mishappening with an onslaught of ceaseless sobs. The Punjabi Uncle pacified me and then gently asked, “do you remember your address or any contact number?” My mom had earlier made me memorize the address of our home and the landline phone number (Mobile phones were not introduced to the common man by then). So, I blabbed whatever I could remember. But that did not help as we all were here in Shimla. Uncle further asked me if I could recall the name of our inn or any landmark nearby. I thought really hard but failed to get anything specific. At that juncture, one of the women in the family observed the ice cream, which I was still holding in my hands. It was in a half-frozen state. The quick-witted aunty whispered in Uncle’s ears, “Look at that ice cream. It had not completely melted yet. This means the little girl had separated from the family a short while back, and her parents might be here anytime in search of her.” So the gracious family kept me engaged in their conversation.
As it is rightly said, “Miracles come in moments”, that day I was blessed with the one too. All of a sudden, I heard my name from a distant wail. I turned around anxiously and found my mom running towards me. I too hastened back and clung to her arms. She shrieked in extreme delight with tears racing down her cheeks. After we, the mother-daughter duo, were in control of our emotions, we looked around to thank the Punjabi Uncle. But, by then, the family had walked away quite far from us as they did not need any acknowledgement or appreciation for their generous act. We were overwhelmed and thanked The Almighty for sending those kind souls to my rescue.
From that day onwards, my mom made sure that I always carried a detailed address card with me, either in my pocket, purse or pinned to my frock. Dear parents, request you all to follow the same practice and keep your children safe and happy.