Does 50 sound too aged? I hope not. At least the days that I look back to doesn’t seem like I have left them behind too long ago. It was the famous city of Maharashtra known for exotic temples. Kolhapur. I lived there with my family for around 4-5 years, if not more.
I can’t recollect their faces clearly though. I was a child then. I don’t remember when my family left me on the streets of Kolhapur, to deal with life all alone. Did I disturb them too much? Was I very demanding? I have no memory of that. All I can say is, I was left on the streets of Kolhapur by my family and I have few glimpses of that day still fresh in my mind.
I with my parents and elder brother had gone to the very famous Mahalakshmi temple. It was as famous as it is still today. I don’t know on what occasion we went there. But I can say that there was something special that day as the temple was over-crowded. Normally we never visited the temple so early in the morning.
I was holding my father’s hand and was climbing up the stairs. Everyone was running helter sketler, pushing and pulling each other, eager to make their way forward. It was very difficult to climb a single stair. I was so small that no one could see me. Everyone would end up hitting me here and there, in their own haste to proceed. It was so annoying that I felt like crying and didn’t want to go up to the temple. My father could see me struggling, so he finally lifted me on his shoulders. Then I felt happy and peaceful.
We went up, visited the temple, came back and were on our way back home. I clearly remember my father saying, ”Stay here and we’ll come back in 5 minutes.”
I agreed and stood right there. I saw my parents going with my elder brother down the road. I was standing at the same place playing with a cat that came near me. Time passed by, no one came back. Many 5 minutes came and went. I waited there for 2 hours, unsure of what to do. Slowly it started feeling very weird. I just can’t express those how terrible those moments were. It was like someone had kept a heavy stone on my heart. I ran down the road, in the direction where my parents went. I ran for 10 minutes but could not see anyone. I stood there and started crying.
I was just 5 and alone. Though very young, I knew I had been abandoned. But a part of me lives in denial even today. I still wonder, maybe something happened to them that day because of which they couldn’t come back! Maybe I wasn’t really thrown out of the family! Maybe there’s something that I don’t know.
Storyteller : Jayesh Lakhe, resident of an old age home in Mumbai
As told to Ritika Jain