It was a Sunday.
I was at this busy shopping Mall at Kolkata, to spend my evening. People were moving on Brownian motion theory; kids with i-Pod wires dripping from their ear lobes; Mother & Daughter discussing on which shops to enter; a cute adolescence talking to her boyfriend on her blackberry and almost crying; a group of boys with their rough macho looks and metals chains talking some fun stuffs. Everyone is busy in their small world.
I entered the Spencer’s and stroll through the racks of eye tempting and expensive stuffs. I’ve picked some useless stuff like few crystal showpiece, a backpack, showering gel and other things; things you know you don’t need but you buy.
I was paying my bill for my buy at the catch counter, suddenly a little girl brushes past my legs but I didn’t pay any attention to her as the woman on the cash counter announce the amount of my purchase and I handover my credit card to her.
As I head out the shop towards the lift, I noticed the girl again. She was around two or two and half years in age, a little pony tail was tied with her hair, wearing a pink top and denim blue skirt. She was walking pitter-patter, not caring anybody who passes her around, entering randomly into the shops and looking up to the faces of women she find in front of her and then with a feeling of rejection put downs her head and start her pitter-patter walk. My instinct told me she is lost in this mall and trying her best way to find her mother.
I decided not to give her attention and to rush for home, but legs betrayed my mind and I was standing there to look her moving into each shop on that corner of the mall and coming out. Nobody was giving her any attention.
I fixed my eyes on her. Suddenly I became her virtual guardian. As she strolls towards the other corner of the shopping mall, I followed her. Her walk was quick for someone so small and I was keeping pace with her direction.
I become like she was driving me around the shopping mall and me with the packets of some not-so-necessary household stuffs in my hands following her directions.
She was unable to keep track of shops she had already checked in and directions, which was obvious for someone at that age.
She appears to me as the red dressed little girl the only colored image in the film Schindler’s List– walking around the Jewish ghetto and no one notices her, her diminutive stature among the bustle of people makes her invisible in the sense that you cannot see her if you are not looking for her. I was looking at this little girl exactly the same way.
When it seem, she’s heading towards the exit of the shopping mall, I quicken my walking speed to reach before her. I knell down. My presence doesn’t make any difference to her facial expression. She was already shattered with her failure to find out her mother, probably.
I was unaware what to ask her. But I had to say something to keep her busy and not letting her out of the shopping mall. I still don’t know why I was doing that. I wanted to sooth her with my words but can’t find some to motivate her. As a grownup we can talk to strangers on any topic from politics to weather, from share market to terrorism; but I couldn’t find words to start my conversation with this little girl.
But I had to speak to her. I asked “What’s your name baby?” Suddenly I realized this was not my voice. I was nervous. I again ask, this time a foolish question “Where is your mom?” And realized why I concluding she came with her mother, she might have come with father or both. As my mind was working on reasoning, she started talking in her own baby languages something which I could not figure out.
My mind started telling me, I was following this little girl for some time and we have almost covered the shopping mall under the eyes of surveillance cameras. Security must be watching us. What if they think of me as a kidnapper? A sudden feeling of self-consciousness overcomes me. I was trying to help this little girl, but no one knows my intention.
Suddenly the red lights of the CCTV camera looking at me from the mall ceiling making me scared. For the first time I feel anxiety for being watched. But I can’t leave this toddler now. As I spoke to her, she had clutched her hand on my trousers. She’s trying to take shelter and probably thinking I am the person who knows where her mother or father is or may be the parents are.
But why there is no announcement for the lost child? Haven’t her parents noticed that she was not with them? Were they so engrossed in the shopping, they forget they have brought their child with them?
With these questions in mind, I took her hand and walked toward a middle-aged security man of a jewelry shop in the mall, as his look make me feel he is a trusted person and help us.
I told the security man that the toddler is lost and she needs help. He told me to keep track of her as he organizes an announcement for her on the shopping mall’s announcer. An old lady, who was passing by, overheard my conversation with the security guard, asked me what’s happening, I briefed her too.
As the security guard approached the mall’s announcer, the old lady started talking to the toddler with the motherly language, which I could not make. This little girl, probably recognized the tone of the language, left her clutch of my hand.
I feel relieved. I feel the girl is in safe hands and now surely she will be handed over to her mother. I find no reason to be there and decided to move out and started walking towards the mall gate. At the gate, I turn my head around to look at the girl; she was looking at me, with expression I couldn’t understand, as the old lady was continuing her conversation. The security guard was yet to make the announcement done. I moved on to the road, took the taxi back home.
With my engrossing workloads, I never did find about what happened to the little girl I met in the shopping mall in her pink top and denim blue skirt. I like to think the security guard got the announcement made, as the old lady keep little girl busy long enough till her mother or father or both the parent come running and hug her. I hope they met soon after I left the mall. I presumed her mother must have taken swear never to take her eye off her little girl again. And everything must come to a happy ending. It’s my logical sequence of the way the event should have ended and I want to be satisfied with that.
But what if the event had not unfolded as per my logical sequence?