Who tells the story matters, as it changes the whole narrative.
One of the bright and sunny weekends, I decide to volunteer at the temple. Before I reach the place, a middle-aged man who was standing beside a crying boy and a girl about 4-5 years old stops me midway and asks if I work there. I say I am a volunteer and ask him how could I help?
He explains the situation that the small boy (4-5 years old) was all by himself and was crying for his parents. The man had to leave with his family and wanted to hand over the kid to someone before he left. I told him that I will take care of the kid and bend down to ask the kid’s name. The boy was wailing loudly.
At that moment, I felt my maternal instincts take over and lifted him in my arms and asked him to calm down. The little boy quizzically looked at me and slowly reduced his pitch. I showed him a few paintings around and asked him to identify the picture in English and two other languages (no idea what language he spoke). By now, the kid had stopped crying and was fully attentive to what I was saying. I turn around and tell the family to leave. They felt assured and left.
I spoke to some of the temple administrators and explain the situation. They ask me to go to the manger’s office and see if anyone has come there to complain about a missing child. I go up the stairs and speak to the manager and inform him of the situation and he suggests to wait near the food distribution counter. I come down to remove my footwear and take him into the premises (maybe someone will recognize the boy when I am carrying him in my arms instead of letting him walk around).
A man comes near me fully focusing on the child, and points to him and says “My son”. I was very happy that there was someone who came for the kid. I look at the boy and at the man. The man holds out his hands and arms and the boy jumps from my arms to him. I think the man seems familiar. Somehow, I did not leave the place and stood right there looking at them and their interaction. The father felt extremely uncomfortable and explained how he lost hte boy and where his wife must have left him. It matched the place where I found him. He took out his phone and showed me a picture of the kid as proof that he was the father and the boy was his child. He scrolled up a few times and showed a picture taken few months back with the boy’s younger brother and said his wife is with the other younger one.
By now, I was convinced and wished them well and left. He thanked me and left.
I experienced the narrative from the boy’s perspective. His parents were lost. It never occurred to me that the boy was the one who was lost and that the parents must have been looking for him. As I was with the kid, in my mind – the kid was fine, it was the parents who were lost and we were busy searching for the parents.
I knew that the parents would remember this incident for a very long time in their lives and would share the story with their children and grandchildren multiple times. How he was found again miraculously, with the Grace of God and how a woman who they have never met, found the kid and reunited them will stay in their minds forever. I know it because, I lost my uncle near a beach when I was young. Yes.. I was not lost, I could not find my uncle who took me to the beach 🙂 Got to experience a similar incident yet again in my life, but this time – from a different perspective.