Fatal distractions : Honey I lost the kid

52

Samarjit Kambam
Memories of different kinds and hues come hitting inside our heads every now and then, a biological mechanism for us humans. Some memories are sweet, some are better not remembered. The irony is that the bitter memories which we intend to ignore come kicking inside the brain more frequently no matter how hard you try to block it. Bitter memories can easily tear apart your brain’s firewall and pillage your mental balance like a storm trooper equipped with all the gears to give you higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety. For those suffering from Alzheimers’, it’s a different matter.

Me too have experienced incidents that give me sweet memories as well as ones that give me scores of bitter memories. I don’t know whether this happens to you guys but to me the bitter memories kicks in more often and resides inside my mind longer than sweet memories, like a resident evil ready to lay more eggs of bitter memories inside my head. Out of all the bitter memories, there’s one which comes alive and kicking inside my head every now and then disturbing my mental equilibrium. It was the result of an incident, an incident that’s more of an incident than any other incidents, an accidental incident.

A few years back, I was conveying with my two and a half years old son, destination known only to me. It was nearly dusk and the sun was far at the horizon, turning red, ready to climb down between the cleavage of two hills. It was at Ukhrul Road and I was about to buy spare parts from one of the rows of automobile spare parts shops. While stepping down from my rickety car with no child lock system, I pulled up the windows and told my son to wait for me till I return. Then after buying the requisite spare part, I bumped into the father of the one of my friend, the contemporary popular singer Sorri Senjam watching his car being fumbled by a mechanic at an automobile workshop just adjacent to the spare parts shop. I should have returned to my vehicle straightaway if he had not called me. We exchanged “Hi”, “Hello”, “Long time no see” and the likes. He asked me how I was, I asked him how he was. Our answers were same. Both of us were fine. Then, out of curiosity I asked him what was being repaired. He told me that the mechanic was at his wits end as the motherboard for multipoint fuel injection was non functional. Like an expert, I told him to replace the faulty motherboard as there was no way the poor mechanic could rectify it as it is a “use and throw” item, no question of repairing it. Then his interest in me grew manifold all of a sudden. Even though I was a layman when it comes to engines of cars, I pretended as if I was omniscient in the matter. I told him ‘this’ and ‘that’ such as “This can be repaired, that cannot be, this one’s costly, that one’s cheap”… blah blah. I further told him “The oil is not returning back to the MPFI based injectors, that the accelerator pump seems rickety, that the fuel jet is clogged, the tepids need adjusting and some valves need to be realigned, that the crankshaft needs replacement, that the unwanted noise is due to faulty piston rings. And then, the conversation went on and one. Due to the attention given to me, I was also totally absorbed in the thoroughfare, completely oblivious of my kid which I placed at the back seat.
After more than half an hour of conversation on the mechanical parts and electrical parts of the engine of his car, I suddenly received a jolt of remembrance about my son. Saying goodbye to the gentlemen, I, holding the spare part headed straightaway towards my car in long strides. To my utter dismay I could not see my son anymore. All I could see was his pair of slippers lying on the floor in front of the rear seat. It was almost dark. I looked around for any sign of him but my son was nowhere to be seen. Then, my mind ceased to function as if the pistons of the engines have ceased. I called out my friends from the proximity and shouted hitherto thitherto, searching every street, nearby houses and even drains. There was still no sign of him. Then the sky seemed crashing down on me and I felt like I was carrying the weight of the earth on my shoulders. The first thing that came to my mind was that my child was kidnapped as his slippers were still lying inside the vehicle. That was the moment I wanted to kill myself for my distraction though not intentional. Then I sent all my friends to different directions – south, north, east, west but they all came back with no good news.
More than an hour passed by and there was no trace of my son. I thought, “If I don’t find my son, I’ll kill myself”. Then horrible images appeared distinctly in front of my eyes. There are professional syndicates of child snatchers who kidnap kids and selling them outside the state. Unimaginable thoughts then hovered inside my mind. What if my son was kidnapped, taken outside the state and used as a tool to earn money at train stations and other areas by cutting away parts of his limbs or an eye gorged out. I felt claustrophobic and asphyxiated with all those horrible thoughts lingering inside my mind. I went to my wife’s house which was quite near but there was no sign of him. It was the most painful and tortuous moments of my life, moments that seemed like eternity which I’ll never forget as long as I live. How do I tell my wife that I have lost our kid? She’d simply faint away on the spot hearing that. I had never expected that my son would be going at my home turf at Tinsid Road, the road that runs eastward from Khurai Lamlong Bazar’s traffic island.

I was driving through every roads and streets at the vicinity but to no avail. I felt like I was driving at a nightmare avenue, an ELM street or a maze. After half an hour or so, I heard a faint announcement from a mike about a child being found walking on the streets. She was found by an old woman walking at Tinsid Road in shorts with dust covered all over his legs. The old woman then took her to a local club located a Kongpal Thongkhong. Thank God my son crossed the age of a toddler and was able to utter clearly my name and his mom’s when asked by the members of the club. By the time I reached the club he was already taken away by one of my aunts in a state of panic after hearing the public announcement. When I reached home he was comfortably seating amongst a crowd of people with a blanket wrapped around him. The initial reaction was a great sigh of relief inside me as if the weight of the world has been taken down from me. But my moment of intense relief and happiness didn’t last long as there were thunderstorms and hails galore about to precipitate on me. The first sign of thunderstorm was the hard stare of angst from my mom. And whenever my mom gave me that stare without uttering a single word, I knew that it was a sign where her patience and tolerance have worn away with her fury reaching the point of no return. I froze on the spot. Then the hails poured down upon me in the form of scoldings and abusive words from my relatives and neighbours for being too careless which I heartily relished for those thunderstorms and hails were worth it and I deserved it.

There were many cases in the world where toddlers were scorched to death during hot days in the rear seat of the vehicle as their parent forgot them due to distractions such as an emergency phone call from their bosses, a distress call from a relative or friend or the likes, a distraction very fatal albeit not intentional. My appeal to those carrying toddlers frequently is to make a habit of giving a glance at the rear seat whenever you climb down from your four wheeler.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Source: The Sangai Express

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