It’s Janmashtmi evening. Celebrations are on in the society where security measures are known to be tight. But this evening is special. People from outside are trickling in. Guards are fewer in number, many busy with putting up the dahi haandis. Hundreds of mumbaikars in a celebratory mood.
Few hours later lights about to go off. By now it felt like a day well spent ending in a usual note! Abruptly the usual routine is interrupted by a distraught message on our ‘friendly neighbourhood’ whatsapp group. A mother who had returned home from work can not find her five year old. Last seen during the Janmashtmi celebrations where she had been separated from her grandparents.
Thanks to whatsapp 70 odd, awake and furiously online moms get into action! Everyone reassures the mother, that the girl has to be within the society. Could not have wandered out alone. But still the collective fear psychosis has already built up. A picture is doing the round of the lost child. Nary a second thought, many come down to help search. 800+ apartments, swimming pool, refuge areas, stairwells, play areas are all being combed in this mega locality. Teenagers get into action too, pokemon go hunts be damned!
Few hours back, could have been just another elevator ride for me, with the only exception that all my co-riders were people who I would give my seat to, had they been riding a bus with me – an aged grandfather with a tiny girl on a scooty, a mother with two small girls and a pram riding baby in tow. I am not good with remembering faces, names and many important things but one thing my antenna catches really well are feelings. Call it my motherly instincts. As this other mother veers her pram off when the lift door opens at her floor, the two girls follow her. From behind I barely get a glimpse of a girl’s back. I notice her sparkly pink sandals. And I sense she does not belong in this family even though she accompanies them. Maybe a play date!
Rummaging through those hundreds of whatsapp exchanges made in the last 30 minutes, my mind recollects the glimpse of that girl, whose back I had noticed. Honouring my hunch I call this hitherto unknown mother to check ‘was your daughter wearing sparkly pink sandals?’ Mother was obviously in a flurry, hassled rooting about the place ! ‘Huh’, the mother fumbled, apologetic that she did not know.
I followed my hunch and my mind magically and accurately recollected the two floors the elevator had stopped before mine. In a matter of few minutes, I was standing at a door of a house facing a quite, shy, young five year old lass blissfully unaware of all the commotion. The girl had been separated during the celebrations, was brought by a samaritan to her house. On enquiring why she had not responded or reached out to the kids parents, this lady samaritan responded that she was caring for her own 4 month old baby and her 5 year old girl while figuring out how to get the lost girl to her parents. The lost girl obviously did not know her parent’s numbers nor her own address. Our whatsapp group supports only 275 members and this lady was not part of the group, or probably busy to not check her phone as often.
Finally, the mother and the daughter were re-united. Hundreds of neighbours sighed in relief. My eyes catching a glimpse of the pink sparkly sandals lined up with all the other footwear, as if winking at me.