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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Lost In The Shuffle

A boy stood gazing at the road near the gate of his school. Between the boy and the gate, stood a small, scared puppy. Cautiously, the puppy approached the boy, timid in its steps, while the boy continued to gaze at the traffic on the road. Despite the puppy being near to him, the boy did not notice the puppy. Even when the puppy placed a soft paw on the hands of the little boy, there was no sign of reaction or reflex in the boy. Frantically, the puppy gave him a few more taps on his hand with its paw. Grumbling at the lack of response, the puppy retired back to the gate, and lay down, still with its eye on the boy. Hours later, the boy was still standing in the same position, still gazing at the traffic. In the meantime, the puppy had gone to a slumber. Jambu, who was the watchman to the school and had looked upon these events musingly as he sat in his usual chair, finally decided to go up to the boy to find out what he wanted. Kneeling down to the little boy’s height, Jambu began a conversation with the boy.

‘Looking at those cars, are you? Haven’t you watched them for too long now?’ asked Jambu, smilingly. 

‘Mother has not come back yet,’ replied the little boy.

‘Not to worry, boy! She’ll be here soon…’

‘On the way, she told me 2 hours ago on call. It takes only 40 minutes to get to school from the zoo. I’m waiting for her, she promised to take me to the park.’

‘Probably she is stuck in traffic, she’ll be here soon, and I’ll call you the moment her car comes.’

Quietly, the boy brought a chair and settled near the gate. Realizing that the boy was not going to go back, Jambu took his chair near the boy’s and settled next to him. 

Something felt wrong to Jambu, though he couldn’t place what it was. Time ticked away, and after several more hours, the traffic thinned. Unsure of what to do with the boy, Jambu asked the boy for his mother’s number, but the boy did not know. Voluntarily, Jambu offered to drop the boy home, but the boy didn’t reply. When Jambu was struggling with the case of the boy, an elderly woman rushed up to the gate of the school, and called out the little boy’s name. 

‘Xavier!’ she called, and hugged and cried when she saw the little boy sitting, and the puppy ran to the boy and the elderly lady. 

‘Your boy, mam, has been sitting here all day saying that his mother told him she was on the way on call, but nobody came and I was starting to get worried!’ exclaimed Jambu, feeling thankful that somebody came to pick up the little boy. 

‘Zoo accident… his mother passed away a year ago, and the last thing she told him on call was that she is on the way,’ explained the little boy’s grandma before she thanked the watchman for taking care of the boy.

Jambu stood there, the realization of the gravity of loss and attention on the little boy numbing him to a dark silence. 

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