Shahzeel, Mysha kaha hai?” I yelled as she got out of sight. Our world crashed.
In the last week of January this year, Mysha, and her parents, took a trip to Thailand. It was a long pending trip, and the traveler in me was ecstatic about it. We had planned it for almost a month, and when that week arrived, we embraced it with full gusto. After doing Bangkok for two days, we flew to Phuket and indulged in all the sports and recreational activities for the next five days.
It was our last day in Phuket and we planned to take it slow. We had already given away our energy (in scuba diving, swimming and shopping), complexion (sun bath and sea water) and blood (multiple bruises) to the island and wanted to lay low that evening. We planned to take a stroll at the market near by, have dinner and retire to the hotel room early. We needed to take a good sleep, as the next day demanded extensive traveling, with a child– Phuket-Bangkok-Hyderabad.
It was Shahzeel, Mysha and myself, with her stroller, on the walkways of Phuket. Just a few moments in her stroller, she said – “Papa, walking.”
She was very keen to be on foot during the entire trip, to enjoy the brisk air while running and walking. She made sure to say ‘hi’ to passersby whist they tapped her head or patted her check saying “Oh! She is so cute.” Mysha never forgot to blink her big eyes as if to say, “Thank you for the compliment, and yes I know I am cute!”
Her father took her out of her stroller and she started to walk beside it. As the plan was to relax that evening, we thought of getting a foot massage. After all, Phuket is bursting with massage parlors. After walking past massage parlors every five minutes, we stopped to enquire at one. Shahzeel got involved in talking to the lady behind the wooden podium, located outside the store. I stood five steps behind him with Mysha and her stroller.
It happened right at that time. Shahzeel was on my left and Mysha was on my right, just beside the stroller. I lifted my eyes to the rate card pasted on the glass of the salon wall. In five seconds I read the rate stated adjacent to the foot massage and then I turned to check on Mysha. She was gone!
A few seconds back she was standing on the spot and now I could not see her. Without missing a moment, I turned to my left and yelled “Shahzeel, Mysha kaha hai?”
I was sure she would have walked towards him, but she was not there. I looked forward, to my right, then to my left; my eyes desperate to catch her glimpse. With her absence to my eyes, and her smell to my nose, my lungs started feeling the lack of oxygen.
Both of us started looking for her frantically. The woman at the massage parlor was alarmed as well. At one moment I was on the pavement looking for her and the other second I stepped on the fast moving road, just to see my baby. I did not realize where I was till a man tapped on my shoulder. I turned to him frantic to hear her whereabouts, only for him to ask me to move to the pavement.
There was an alley running right next to the main road and I ran to give it a quick glimpse, all in vain.
“Someone has kidnapped her, but that quick? In the blink of an eye. They said Thailand is the country of human trafficking. No, No, No!! That can’t be it.”, cried my head.
To my disbelief I didn’t cry. My senses did not produce tears; because they were busy making me act. They made me do what ordinarily I cannot, like standing on a fast paced road. At one point the movie ‘Taken’ came to my mind and I did not know where to look for my missing daughter. I did not even remember to pray to the Almighty, as all I was doing was looking for her in all-possible directions.
Darkness was about to take me over and pull me down, that I saw the light in the form of pink polka-dot pyjamas and a pink top walking 100 meters away from us. I ran to my belonging like moth to a flame. She had her back towards me and was asking an English man – “Papa?? Papa??”.
She must have walked in the opposite direction, and before she knew she had lost her way to her secured surroundings. That man saw me running towards her and knew whom that little girl belonged to. That reverie moment when I saw her got me goose bumps. I placed my hand on her, grabbed her, hugged her and started to walk without a word. My girl also hugged me tight, laid on my right shoulder, something she has been doing since she was a newborn. She too did not say a word. I felt her heartbeat and she felt mine. They had the same tune – voice of comfort, voice of belonging, voice of reunion, and most importantly, voice of thankfulness. It was as if she was in me again, when we were different people but shared a body. If only she was still in me, I would have not had a chance of losing her.
This all happened in a span of 60 seconds. That’s right, what seemed like the worst nightmare, and a never-ending pain, was just a matter of 60 seconds. That’s all it takes to turn your life upside down. A zillion thoughts crossed my mind in those seconds, and what I felt is beyond vocabulary.
Even though I did not speak a word, I paid my respect where needed. I may have forgotten to ask for HIS help in those 60 seconds, but I made sure to thank HIM as I found her. It’s always a boon if you ask, but then there are times when HE listens without being asked.
I remember walking for five minutes, in a mute format, when Shahzeel called out my name – “Summy, ruko. Let’s walk together.”
Finally Mysha picked up her head and smiled looking at her father. Her parents looked at each other and they said without moving their lips – What would we have done without this smile? Like all parents, we are living for her now. Saumya and Shahzeel have dissolved themselves to become Mysha’s parents. That’s our identity, our truth, and our triumph now!
Sitting in a cab, leaving for the airport the very next day, I kept tossing Mysha’s hair who slept peacefully on my lap.
I looked at Shahzeel and said, “Has she not been found, I would have never left this country.” “We would have never left this country.” said a very protective father.
We were lucky we found her. My heart goes out to the parents who have lost their children and are still looking for them. Having a child changes your life. Taking care of them and keeping them safe, changes your perception of life.