Left Behind

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 23 February 2019

I can’t remember how I got the message across. Because, like coveting, they missed out another phase in evolution: learning to speak the Queen’s language.

I leave behind things. Like when I left behind my phone in an airplane. Or, when I left behind the purchased stuff at the billing counter after paying the bill. Or, the time when I left my wallet in a phone booth in Tokyo. But, then that was Tokyo:  the land that missed that part of human evolution when we learnt to steal and covet. But, still I was frantic and I trotted straight to the police station as fast as my school-girl shoes allowed (note: when in Tokyo, dress Tokyian). I can’t remember how I got the message across. Because, like coveting, they missed out another phase in evolution: learning to speak the Queen’s language.

‘Purse…purse…phone…saifu…phone booth…denwa.’
‘Aaah, so ne…’
‘Someone stole it’

Zen-like silence had ensued. Maybe, they were considering making sushi rolls out of me and deporting me. Stole? Who steals in Japan? I should have known from the experience when I’d left my umbrella at the Kawasaki station and found it right there, in the same place, after three days. Anyway, filing done, I walked out of the police station, in short, determined strides, clacking my black shoes on the cobbled path.

‘I will escalate my complaint to the emperor if they don’t find my purse.’

A few hundred meters into my walk down the empty street, I sensed someone was following me on a bicycle. I was terrified! Another thief? I broke into a sprint! Now, he was calling out to me. He wanted me to stop so that he could rob me?! What was happening?!

Finally, he overtook me, which didn’t take much of cycling effort. It is then that I recognised him, which does take some serious skill in these parts. It was the cop! He handed me my muffler that I had left behind at the police station. Well, in few days, my purse reached my home, all money and documents intact. I was in awe.

Leaving behind stuff is a trait that has clung to me like that extra waist I carry around my original waist. It’s not going to go soon, I guess. Recently, when at the Kumbh Mela, I found company. Well, lots of company.

The public address system was bursting with ‘Lost and Found’ announcements. Ram Pardhan’s bag of dirty clothes had been found by Gulabban who was waiting with it at the ‘Khoya-Paaya Shivir’ to claim her prize when Ram Pardhan came. Loha’s nani was lost and was waiting at this place for Loha’s nana to rescue her. So were Pakshi Devi from Begusarai, her friend Kanti Devi and Meena ki mummy, who either preferred to keep her name under wraps, or did not know her name. At one point, Meena ki mummy could not take it anymore: she grabbed the microphone and started pleading for rescue, herself. The question that crossed my mind that night was,

‘What if some of them have been left behind intentionally? What if their family got them to the crowded place to lose them?’ It’s a disturbing thought and I am sure my Japanese friends will disapprove of it. But, do I see you sneaking a glance at your mother-in-law and looking up for till when the Kumbh Mela is on?

Best-selling author Rachna Singh (www.rachnasingh.in) is a sit-down comedienne

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