Lost and Found

Losing something is okay. Yeah, at least most of the times! But losing someone is not so okay ever! Now ‘losing’ here is nowhere close to being dead but literally someone being lost. And if that lost person happens to be your 94-year old grandpa who is visiting you, you can be sure you are in for one hell-off-a-ride and some sound yelling too.

But then reminiscing about the incident (once the old man was found safe & sound), is a lot of good enough. It does bring back a lot of fond memories and of course crazy laughs.

Back in 2004, my grand old grandparents visited us in Mumbai. Grandpa young at 94 believed in living his life to the fullest and grandma at 86, was happy to munch on her paan and pray the whole day long. Having lost my real grandparents a short while ago, having them over was truly fun. Now the pair had been married for over 65 years, borne eight children of which only three survived and fortunately, were hale and hearty apart from old age!  

My cousin brother, manu (my brat sister) and I were practically always together – getting into mischief or planning something wicked.  One evening while we chatted in the building garden, Pishi (father’s sister) called us from our 1st floor flat to inform us that Dadu wished to go for a walk.

While he was quite capable of doing so all by himself, grandma did not entirely trust him and so we were to accompany him. We agreed and waited for the old man to step down. Soon we were deeply engrossed in some argument and completely missed the old man walking out of the gate.

Pishi called out to us a while later and enquired about her father. To this we claimed we were still waiting for him to come down. Horrified, she exclaimed that he left a good thirty minutes back. Laughing it off, we told her to go look if he hadn’t dozed off in the living room or close by as we were right next to the gate and couldn’t have missed him.

But she was right. He had left long back and the watchman confirmed the bad news as well. However, we thought he’d be back in about five-ten minutes. But no sign of him for another 30 minutes got us a lot of yelling in Bengali.

Grandma – “Kothai more pore ache…nischoi (must have fallen dead somewhere for sure!)
Pishi – “Kono gutter-e- pore geche…dekhe eisho!” (Check the ditches if he might have tripped into any)
We had panicked too by now. So we three set out as a search party. Yes, we checked all the ditches in the vicinity. Questioned all auto-wallahs and shopkeepers if they had seen an old man walk by! Nada. Bah. We rushed to the nearby garden to check if anyone had seen him there. By now we were getting curious looks and one aunty even managed to retort – “ek buddhe aadmi ko ghum kar diya? Nahi sambhaal paye?” (You couldn’t look after one old man? Lost him?)

Darkness descended and we were shitting bricks. Manu spotted mom near the building entrance and ran towards her. Now it also happened to coincide with us wanting to sell our old home. This meant that we had prospective buyers coming to meet my folks daily. Mom happened to be talking to one of them when Manu announced – “Dadu is lost…”

For a second mom couldn’t registered and waved her aside but Manu (very stupid) repeated the same thing again and again until my mom understood the real situation! By now dada and I had reached home as well. The buyer, gaging our problem, offered to come later.

Mom – “what people must be thinking of me? Old parents come for a few days and the daughter-in-law harasses them so much that one goes missing!”

Sigh, by now the drama had obviously begun. While we continued our search mission, it struck us that dad would be home soon and we of course would be dead on having lost an old frail man! How could we have missed him?

So we made dada call up papa. He somehow managed to ask him how much longer he was going to take to get home. While dada tried to sound brave, papa asked why? Was Dadu okay? Freaking out, he cut the call short. It had been three hours now since Dadu had gone missing. Enough for mom to decide that she wanted to file a missing person’s report! With a heavy heart (more so because she would have to answer my father first…) she left the house. But then miraculously our dear old grandpa was waiting downstairs on the swing! Heaving huge sighs of relief, ma asked him where he had been for so long and if he were alright.

He was truly lost. He had decided to take walk down the same route he used to accompany my grandfather. But he missed a turned and continued to walk for an hour. He reached a toll where the guard realised that he might have been lost. So this kind man offered to drop him home and luckily the old man remembered the address!

So all was well or so we thought! Pishi was happy to see her father alive but grandma not so! She was truly pissed. Highly embarrassed too to have put us through so much trouble! And all this while her prayers had been wasted on him…she had confirmed he was dead. It was her gut feeling she told us. So this was rubbished and the old lady felt jilted.

While we danced around him in glee, he narrated the entire story and boy, did we feel proud of him!

Grandma – ‘bedhe rakho eke…nijhe ke chhada goru babhche!”  (Tie up him…thinks of himself as cattle)

Pishi – ‘baba arr tumi kothai jabe na’ (Father you are not going anywhere from now on!)

Grandma – ‘Kichu khete diyo na…bedhe rakho. Abar paliye jaabe!’ (Don’t feed him. Tie him else he will run away again!)

Soon papa came home but then we had nothing to worry about, did we?

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