I was very small at that time. Maybe 5 or 6 years old. But I still remember the incident. It is etched in my mind like a laser engraving on something hard. It was a weekend trip to the Charminar area for some shopping that Mom must’ve wanted to do, perhaps. For those who don’t know, Charminar is the center of the old city area in Hyderabad. It is always crowded there. People jostling for space. You can’t walk on the streets there without rubbing into each other. There are all sorts of people there. People who are there for shopping. Roadside vendors and of course the shopkeepers who are selling the famous stone bangles of Charminar.
I remember the whole family being on the trip. This inspite of me having a weekend off on Mondays and my sisters having theirs on Sundays. I don’t remember if we had our trusty little Bajaj scooter then. We must’ve taken an auto to this place. And we were going about hopping shop to shop in search of the best bangles at the best prices, I think. I was in awe of the whole place. The maddening crowd and the crazy paraphernalia on display in the shops. On the streets there were vendors selling Pomegranates, Guavas, Roasted Peanuts, Pineapples,etc. There were rag-tag vendors selling digital watches, pens, etc.
In all this hoopla I don’t know when I let go off the finger of my Dad that I was holding to or was it the other way around? I was lost in the middle of the crazy big market of Charminar. You can imagine I was in tears. I was crying and shouting out to Daddy and Mummy. I was winding through the market trying to find my Dad and Mom shouting for them, wherever they were. Looking at my plight some street vendor who was selling Pomegranates took me aside and was trying to calm me down. I was hysterical, as anyone can imagine. Millions of thoughts were going through my mind. Is this it? Am I ever going to see my family again? I don’t remember if I gave any meaningful replies to the vendor who was trying to pacify me. He was discussing with another vendor of handing me over to the Police. For some reason, that seemed to terrified me even more. For at that age us kids never had a good feeling of anything to do with Police.
And then suddenly I saw my Dad coming my way looking for me, frantically. He was closely followed by Mom and my sisters. You can’t imagine the warm fuzzy feeling I had there and then when I saw the familiar sight of my family. They were glad to have found me and I was more glad than them, I am sure. I remember my Dad picking me up and pacifying me, for I was hysterical by then. I don’t think we did much shopping after that. And I don’t think I ever let go of my Dad’s finger after that. At home my Dad told me of possibilities that could’ve happened to kids who get lost and get into wrong hands. Boy, was I more glad now?
This one memory of my childhood still gives me the goosebumps and also fills me with positivity and optimism for the future.