I took my father today to AIIMS, Delhi. He’s just been diagnosed with plural mesothelioma – a rare cancer. Although I insisted on getting treatment from a private hospital, my father, who is 60 years old, had little hope and feared getting exploited. So instead, he chose AIIMS.
I can’t really blame him, as newspapers tend to be filled today with articles about such ‘exploitation’.
But this article is about something much more important and serious than my father’s cancer.
As I was about to enter through the highly crowded AIIMS gate, I saw a man – an old person in his 50s – holding a baby. The baby was probably a one or two-year-old. The man was walking away from the hospital and into the dense crowd.
To me, it didn’t seem like the child was connected to the old man. The man had his head covered with a shawl. Something just didn’t feel right.
Now I had just reached AIIMS to get my father treated, but felt like I should do something. So I stopped the car at in front of the main building, told my father to wait in car and ran out of the main building to confront that man.
I looked around in the heavy crowd outside the AIIMS main gate but I couldn’t find him. Just as I feared that I had lost him, to my good luck, I caught sight of him coming towards me.
So, I stopped and confronted him. I asked him what his relation to the child was. He said that he was the baby’s maternal grandfather. He was very calm and looked harmless. I don’t know why but this convinced me even more that all was not right.
I asked whether he could show me a picture to confirm his identity. He couldn’t.
I inquired further about the baby’s parents. He said that the baby’s mother was inside the hospital and in the waiting hall. I remained firm and told him to take me there.
As we walked, I started feeling a sense of uneasiness in my stomach. What if I was wrong about this man? Or what if I was right? What if he had an accomplice hiding around who might suddenly attack me from behind? What if the woman he’s taking me to is also a part of this gang of kidnappers? Surely she would create an impeccable story about them and the child.
I’m going to be honest – I was scared. But I made sure to not leave the child alone and knew that the risk was worth it.
Beacuse I know there is a risk each time I take my car out on the road too. That I might be in an accident and may hurt myself or someone else.
So I took deep breaths and kept walking alongside the man.
Finally, the waiting room arrived. The woman saw us and rose with a panic-stricken expression. At least that’s how I saw it. She took the child from the man’s hands. At this point, the baby also started crying and called her ‘mamma’. This made me believe them a bit.
I asked the lady about the man. She confirmed that the man was her father. Although I could see the resemblance between her and the baby, I still asked them if they had a picture of all of them together – maybe on their phones.
The woman did have a picture on her phone and it made me feel so relieved. Humans aren’t really brought up to feel relieved when proven wrong, but it felt nice.
But I felt bad as well. I folded my hands in front of the man and the woman and apologised heartily for the serious inconvenience I had put them through. I explained to them how several children are kidnapped in Delhi and surrounding areas daily and that I was only concerned about the child. I apologised again, and left.
It took five to seven minutes of my time. I’ll explain to the reader later as to why I’m pointing this out.
Now I totally understand if some readers think I’m a weirdo for putting an old man carrying a very young baby through this kind of grilling.
But I hid some other extremely scary facts from the woman and the old man because I didn’t think they were ready for it. They are the following.
On an average, 180 children go missing in India everyday. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of children who went missing has gone up by 84%.These small children are forced into child labour, prostitution, begging on the streets, and organ trading.
I have been quite ignorant and wasn’t even aware of the existence of such ills in our country.
I feel our honourable Prime Minister is an extremely effective orator. A man who can convince 1.3 billion people to quit using big notes in a few hours. I have seen the impact he has on the people of this country.
I dream that one of these days, he will have a telecast at 8 o’clock in evening on Doordarshan. And he will give a resounding speech, focusing on the children of our country. He will stress on the fact that today’s children will grow up to be in important positions in the future. They may become politicians, CEOs, doctors, engineers. But they will be taking care of us, just like we take care of our elders.
When I see people in our generation mistreating elders, I believe it’s because a lot of people from our generation were not raised on principles of honesty, hard work, commitment, encouragement for others, patience, being part of solution, punctuality, being team player and contributing to the growth of the family, the community and the country.
Instead, we have turned out to be greedy insensitive cheaters – liars who bribe their way out. We disrespect women and children, do not value time, do not commit, do not believe in hard work. We have low levels of patience, we love to complain and we believe in only taking and not giving or sharing.
I imagine PM Modi saying that from this day on, we, as a country, will vow to make a better future for our children. We start by creating a better environment for education and through moral upbringing of our children.
If the PM said this, every house, parent, community, city and state will put children on the top of their priority list.
I dream of the PM saying that our number one priority is our children.
Allow me to tell you an old short story. An old man and his grandson were walking along the beach. There were thousands of jellyfish that had washed ashore and were dying. The old man started picking them up one by one, and threw them back into the sea. The boy found this stupid and asked, “Grandpa, there are thousands. How does it matter?” The old man picked one and threw it into the sea and said, “It mattered to that one.”
As I pointed out before, it took me seven minutes to check whether a child was safe or not with a stranger.
I wanted to save one. So I’m going to ask the reader to try and save even one of our children.
Please take the time to visit this page if you want to help.