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Friday, March 2, 2012

My roots - Part I

Eversince I was a kid, I liked to explore, and experience. I didn't like the walls people built around me or the million rules they made. So I trotted along, but every once in a while I ran off as soon as I saw the chance. That's why when that certain uncle I'd only met once or twice offered to drive me to see the biggest mythological villain according to our epics, the three-year-old me was only too glad to jump on his scooter and drive off into the dark night.

I always followed my desires, not giving a hoot to what it would do to the people I drove away from or left behind. And so we reached the big ass playground which I had left just an hour back. It was too crowded and Mom hadn't been feeling too well. You suspected a stampede at the least, judging the crowd's agitation level and numbers. You've always had an eye for the things to come Papa, but I so wanted to see evil burn to the ground with my own eyes.

As we reached, the man offered to buy me candy floss but all I wanted was to get in, ahead of everyone else. He held my hand and tried to guide me through the massive crowd. But he didn't know, I lead my own path. I don't hold on to hands for support too often and his fingers were strange and unknown. I left them somewhere along my journey and found myself in the middle of people too tall for me to look at and too strong for me to push.

The man started to panic and fret. My face was nowhere to be found and he had lost not just a kid, but somebody else's kid. While he roamed around screaming my name, I made way between people's legs to reach the very front of a much coveted line. I maintained my balance as I was pushed around. I didn't notice the mob getting out of control or when exactly all hell broke lose. The last thing I remember watching was the blinding blaze from the fire that was ablaze at last; the fire that I'd yearned for and managed to see.

In between the havoc and chaos at the playground, you were losing your cool back home, unaware of where I'd disappeared. Mom tried to calm you but she was worried too. Her creases eased somewhat and yours just deepened as you saw a scooter driving towards our house. He got off the scooter, perspiring and trying hard to form the words, "I.. I just took her to the playground.. She.. She left my hand.. The crowd.. There was a stampede.."
You didn't wait for him to complete the sentence, collared him and dragged him closer slapping his face, hard - this man who was your friend.

"How dare you take her out of my sight?", you said, as you hit him again. People tried to pull him away and he tried in vain to apologize. Nobody could hold you back and you struck again. You'd never let your little girl out by herself for this world was a big, bad place. You were livid at this man who'd managed to ruin all your efforts to keep her safe and protected by this one careless stunt of his.
"WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER?", you bellowed into the silence of the night. Nobody has the answer. I'd left home, not to return.

*

But that's not how the night ended Papa. I'd listened to all those stories you read out to me and even though I didn't leave breadcrumbs to lead me back, I did count the turns and I did memorize the landmarks that would take me home always, a long time back, when you weren't looking. I came back, counting my steps and taking help from all the memories you and mom had helped me build around that neighbourhood. For when you weren't looking, I memorized the red light where you always switched off the ignition for it lasted too long, I learnt the roundabout where mom always forgot which turn was which, I remembered the lamppost under which I'd dropped my cap once, I knew the road on which mom taught me to ride my cycle and I certainly knew the lane which marked our house. Because you never taught me weakness. Losing sight, or calm, or faith was never an option. Fighting always was. So even though I left to discover the world, I came back Papa. All you had to do was wait.

And even though I've left home again, for a much longer duration this time and a much bigger discovery, I will come back. For that's where I belong. All you have to do is wait. Just wait for me.

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