All the world is not a stage. It’s a fair. You roam about with people admiring the crafty creations you witness there. These are the people that matter to you and these are the people you have clung to among the myriads of masses. Occasionally, you do see faces that you might know. You may even greet them with some pleasantries and move on. You never know the glories that await on the next turn and which of them would put you in utter awe. You are but a newbie in an unknown city and your family constitutes all your bag and baggage. But what if the only entity that has been with you throughout the journey gets snatched away from you? And what if you do not know how to get them back?
I would have been six then. The month was of October and the nights had begun to turn wintery in our town. Nobody knew when it started, but for decades, the town had been hosting a Dusshehra Mela. And so, from the point the statues of Ravan, Meghanth and Kumbhkaran began to sport in the Mela Maidan, I would go to see them with Dad every other day. After Dusshehra night, when Ravan would officially be declared dead and peace and joy would be announced all over, the real festivities began. The big Mela as we liked to call it, marked by the point when the giant wheel would be installed, would last for about 20 days. And after every 5 days, we kids would get restless to go once again to the Mela for the swings, the food and most of all to get a refill of our guns. And our parents didn’t mind too. It was the biggest event of the town in the whole year and everyone wanted to make the most of it.
The first time we visited, the whole cavalry accompanied us. My Parents, my little sister, My aunts and uncles, their own kids and some of our neighbors whom we affectionately called uncle and aunt too. The minute we reached the point where the main gallery forked into numerous rows, my eyes began their inspection. Which of these would be hosting the best Pav Bhaji? In which one of those two shops would I be able to shoot more balloons? Which of the giant wheels is higher? This time, I would not let Maa rule over me and I would go to the highest one with the bigger kids…. All trivialities that mattered. Soon, the rounds into the different rows would begin and would not end until all of them would be covered for good. The kids would rush in every time a swing or a balloon shooting shop or a gun shop would arrive and the parents would stand there doing nothing, feeling like fools, waiting for their turn to finally pay and get it over with. Whenever a crockery shop, or idol shop or any shop for that matter which displayed anything that could be used in a home would arrive, the kids would stand there like fools, waiting for their parents to finally pay and get it over with.
When everyone would get satisfied with what they had bought and when those food fires would start to take evil turns, we would turn back to the food shops. It would be almost customary to begin with a plate of Pav Bhaji for everyone followed by a Softy. Then, we would walk to those chaat stalls and have little bites on most of them. After this, it would finally be time to walk out.
That night, when all was finally done and we were beginning to leave the Pav Bhaji shop, we barged into my Mamaji’s family who also lived in the town. After exchanging pleasantries, the small talk started getting bigger and I started getting bored. All I wanted to do was to get out and get those hot groundnuts they sold outside. I was holding my uncle’s hand who himself was absorbed in the conversation. Just then, a cow passed from where I was standing and I started looking at its peculiar face. She had a deformity, I know now, but it appeared to me a thing of wonder then so much so that I kept on staring it for minutes. I do not remember how much time passed all this while but when I finally turned to walk away and started searching for a familiar hand, I didn’t find one. My parents weren’t there. My aunt, uncles, my cousins- there was no one. It took me a minute to gauge what had happened and then I started crying. It wasn’t so much tears as it was the fear of having lost my parents. And the same turned into words as I sobbed and sobbed all the time repeating- “My parents are lost. My parents are lost”.
Now when I look at that boy, standing in that lonely corner, crying his heart out for his lost parents, all I can think of is that God sending angels to help little kids does happen. Just when I was about to move away from there to look for my parents, a stranger, an angel in disguise walked by me. On hearing me cry, he came to me and tried to pacify me. He asked me in what direction my parents could have gone but in that moment I knew nothing. He asked me where I saw them the last time and I moved to the exact point five feet away from me to tell him. He then bent down to me and said “Do not move an inch from here. Your parents will come looking for you here only. Just wait” and went away. I nodded with my head and started looking in the direction I thought my Maa and Papa had gone. Minutes later, I saw my cousin’s face as he came rushing through the crowd. Then I saw my Mamaji, then my Dad but when I finally saw my Maa, my cheeks came to know what real tears were. But I did not move an inch from there let alone run to them. My Dad finally hugged me and lifted me in his arms. When my Maa took me into her arms, I asked her where she had disappeared. She could not speak anything. I told her that a stranger had told me not to move from where I was and that I didn’t move an inch. That is how she could find me.
This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today. This is a True Story of the impact a stranger left on my life.