The two year old girl sat on her father’s lap in the bus shelter. She did not understand what was happening. She was blabbering something that hardly made any sense. Once in a while, she tried getting down to play. But, her father held her tight. He did not know what to tell her as he was sure she would not understand anything.
Karthik could not control his emotions. He had to say something to his two year old daughter. He lifted her up and looked into her eyes and called her name. She smiled at him the way she always did. He would die for that smile he thought. Shriya was only two years old. But, she loved her house and the place. Her love for the town and the beaches was obvious by the way in which she would ask her father to take her to the beach every evening.
Karthik looked at his precious little girl and said, “We need to move away from this place. I know you love this place. It has been our place. It has been our life. But, war has come. We cannot stay in this place any more. It is not safe for you. I would do anything to keep you and your mother safe and happy.”
Shriya looked mischeivously into his eyes. As though she understood everything he said, she leaned forward and kissed him on his cheeks. She followed the same routine whenever he got her something she wanted or played with her. Karthik realized that deep down somewhere, Shriya understood the situation and agreed to go with his father.
Karthik got up as he knew it was time for them to leave. Anuradha would have finished packing the remaining stuff. Karthik never had family all his life until her met Anuradha. He grew up in a missionary and had a comfortable childhood, but never knew the warmth and affection of mother and father. He was told that they found him near the foyer of the church and the missionary took care of him after that till he got educated. In his first job, he met Anuradha. He liked her so much and her family. They got married after six months and they had Shriya after one and a half year.
As he grew up, the violence in this nation also grew up. When Shriya was born, there was a curfew in the town and there was restlessness everywhere. It was for the first time he thought of leaving this country. He is a successful writer and earned well because of four of his books. He had the money to travel to any country. He would be welcome in some of the advanced nations. So, finally, he decided to move to London for a while before considering further options.
Karthik and Shriya walked along their favorite beach. It was a picturesque locale whenever it rained. It has been raining for the last one week and the beach looked pristine and fresh thanks to the heavy rains. Little Shirya held his hand and jumped frequently into the puddles of water. After walking for a while, he took her inside to let her play with the waves. Karthik took out his mobile phone and clicked some pictures of the waves and his daughter. Suddenly, the waves brought something to his mind. He could not control his tears.
Karthik shouted, “Why do you do this to me? I have tried my best to find my parents. But, now, you take me away from this place. Why do you hate me so much?”
Shriya got frightened, came towards him, and started crying. He recollected the fact that he is no more the child who used to come to the beach and pray to God to show him his parents. He has a responsibility, the cutest thing in his life in his hands. With her little hands, Shriya wiped her father’s tears and smiled at him. Her infectious smile always made him forget everything. At least for her sake, he decided to give up searching for his parents.
After reaching home, Shriya went running to her mother to show some of the flowers she plucked on her way to home. Anuradha took those flowers, appreciated her daughter and washed Shriya’s hands. She has been noticing the fact that Karthik has been depressed ever since they decided to move to another country.
When they got married, they had more than ten neighbors in the colony. Slowly and steadily, people started fleeing out of country. Last year, they had four neighbors. Now, they were left with only one family as their neighbors. This was the case with most of the residential colonies in this capital city of the country. Anuradha understood the grim situation and forced her husband to take a decision to move out of country. She knew that he had this one hope of finding his parents. He has been desperately searching for them since childhood.
Anuradha saw that Karthik was sitting on the sofa lost in thought. She looked at him and said, “We’ll move to London. That does not mean that we’ll give up our search. With the advent of Internet and with the help of our contacts, I’m pretty sure we can find them. With so many people moving out of the country, it might be easier to trace them.”
Karthik said, “You are trying to comfort me. But, it does not make any sense. The distance will add to the difficulty. And, we’re not sure if they waited this long to find their son. Or, you never know if they have left already. Imagine that they chose to get rid of me. I must have been born out of wedlock. It’s so confusing. It’s very difficult to search for them by talking about a baby boy left outside a church on New Year’s Eve. And, I do not have any significant birth marks either to help them recognize me as soon as they see me. It’s just fate. I have to accept it.”
Meanwhile, Shriya was jumping around chanting “London, London.”
Karthik realized that he is making it difficult for everyone. He said, “Let us see. Anything can happen. Let us focus on the packing. Are we all set?”
Karthik and Anuradha discussed the logistics. They got everything ready. Anuradha had to pack a couple of Shriya’s bags. So, Karthik dressed up Shriya in a floral gown that accentuated her cuteness quotient and made her look like an angel. Karthik wanted Shriya to wear a t-shirt and jeans. But, Anuradha insisted that her daughter should always look like an angel. Karthik combed Shriya’s hair after dressing her up. He look at her and could not stop himself from kissing her many times. He thanked God for at least giving him Anuradha and this angel.
They reached airport after a couple of hours. They had three hours time before their flight. They had to come early as they were not sure about traffic. Last time, his friends missed the flight because there was a bomb blast on the main road which caused havoc and panic on their way to the airport.
After finishing the formalities, Anuradha told Karthik that she will take Shriya to the baby care room and feed her some milk and get her ready.
Karthik started playing with his mobile phone and checking his fan’s comments on his book.
Anuradha met someone in the baby care room. She stepped out along with a new woman she met. Karthik did not notice her stepping out.
After thirty minutes, Karthik suddenly realized that Anuradha and Shriya have not yet come out. He was worried. He walked to the baby care room. He could not enter because he was not sure if anyone else was there. A lady was going inside with her kid. Karthik told her to ask his wife to come out soon. The lady came instantly and told him that there was no one inside.
Karthik was terrified.
What might have happened to them? They went into the room right in front of my eyes. I did not see them coming out. Kidnaps are normal in this country. Why would they kidnap my wife? Let me try calling her.
Karthik called his wife on her mobile phone. As always, she did not pick the call. He knew that she always kept her mobile in silent mode. Karthik kept calling her again and again. She did not pick the phone.
Karthik rushed to the security and asked them to make an announcement about his missing wife and kid. The security personnel were helpful and they immediately made the announcement.
Karthik waited for five minutes near the counter. There was no traces of his wife or kid. He was praying to God to save them and bring them to him.
Please keep them safe. Please bring them back to me. Why do you do this to me? I cannot think of living alone again. Please help me God.
Karthik could not control himself. Tears started rolling down his eyes. Suddenly, from far, he saw his daughter running towards him. He felt like the happiest man on this earth.
“Daddy, Daddy” said the little girl.
Along with his wife were another family – an old couple, a young couple, and a small baby boy.
Karthik wanted to thank them for finding his wife and children.
Anuradha came forward and did not say anything. She was crying. Karthik did not understand why she was crying. He has never seen her crying, even during the time she was delivering Shriya.
Karthik asked, “Is everything alright?”
Anuradha smiled along with crying and looked at the old couple. Karthik looked at the woman and he realized from Anuradha’s gestures.
The old woman came running to him and hugged him tight. Karthik realized that he resembled his mother. He was the happiest man in the world.
His parents told him that they had a baby girl after he was kidnapped. They have been searching for him all these years. The girl is now married and she has a young son of her own.
Thank you God! Thank you so much. Thanks for getting them to me.