In the last week of January 2017, Mysha and her parents took a trip to Thailand. It was one that was long pending. I was ecstatic. Having planned the trip for a month, we were indeed looking forward to that week eagerly.
We first stayed in Bangkok for two days. Then, we flew to Phuket and indulged in various sports and recreational activities for the next five days.
On our last day in Phuket, we decided to relax. Besides, we had all exhausted our energies over the previous days. Therefore, we planned to take a stroll at the marketplace nearby, have dinner and then retire to the hotel room early. We needed to sleep soundly, as we would be travelling from Phuket to Bangkok, and then, to Hyderabad, the following day.
Shahzeel, Mysha and myself were walking on the streets of Phuket. After a few moments in her stroller, Mysha said – “Papa, walking.”
She had been very keen on walking during the entire trip. She made sure to say ‘hi’ to every passersby who tapped her head or patted her cheeks saying, “Oh! She is so cute.” Mysha also never forgot to blink her big eyes as if she was thanking them for the compliments.
Her father took her out of her stroller and she started to walk beside it. Then, we thought of getting foot massages. After all, Phuket is full of massage parlours. After walking past several massage parlors, we stopped to enquire at one such parlour. While Shahzeel started talking to a lady behind a wooden podium located outside the store, I stood behind, with Mysha and her stroller.
It was then that it happened. I was standing between Shahzeel and Mysha, when I glanced at the rates mentioned on the salon’s wall. However, when I turned towards Mysha, she was gone!
The very next moment I turned towards Shahzeel and yelled “Shahzeel, Mysha kaha hai? (Shahzeel, Mysha kaha hai?”)
I frantically looked here and there, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. When I couldn’t, I started to panic.
Both Shahzeel and me were now desperately looking for her. The woman at the massage parlor was alarmed as well. One moment, I was searching on the pavement – the next moment, I had stepped in the midst of the moving traffic. In fact, I had lost my bearings till a man tapped on my shoulders. I turned, hoping that he would lead me to Mysha. Instead, he merely asked me to move onto the pavement.
I even checked the alley to the side of the main road – to no avail.
“Someone has kidnapped her? But that quick? In the blink of an eye! They do say that Thailand is a country where human trafficking is rampant. No, No, No! That can’t be it!” – my mind raced through the possibilities.
Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. After all, I was too busy acting. Even though I didn’t know where I could find Mysha, I did not, for once, pray for god’s assistance.
I was about to lose all hope, when I spotted the familiar pink top and pink polka-dot pyjamas. After all, Mysha was only 100 meters away from us.
She had her back towards me, and was asking an English gentleman – “Papa? Papa?”.
She must have walked in the opposite direction, and, before she could have known, she had lost her way back. On seeing us running towards him, the man instantly knew who the girl’s parents were.
The moment when I was reunited with Mysha was one of relief, but it also gave me goosebumps. I grabbed and hugged her tightly. My girl also hugged me tightly and lay on my shoulders. Neither of us needed words. But our heartbeats were one and the same. It was as if we both had become one, after going through this experience.
All this happened in a minute – our worst nightmare and the never-ending pain it threatened to inflict. That’s all it takes to turn one’s life upside down. Never before in my life did I experience so many indescribable thoughts in such a short time.
Even though I hadn’t asked for god’s help while searching for Mysha, I did thank god profusely after finding her. I learnt that god helps people without being sought for.
After walking silently for five minutes, Shahzeel called out to us – “Summy, ruko. Let’s walk together. (Summy, stop. Let’s walk together.)”
Finally, Mysha smiled at me. Shahzeel and I looked at each other and uttered unspoken words – What would we have done without this smile? Like most parents, Mysha is the reason for our existence. We have now completely devoted ourselves to being her parents. That’s our identity, our truth, and our triumph!
The next day, while sitting in the cab on the way to the airport, 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”, we concurred.
We were lucky that 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 ensuring their safety changes your perception of life.