Last evening at the big temple, many folks descended for their weekly tryst with divinity. Being a weekend, the crowds were probably on the higher side. In that sea of humanity, we meandered through and I noticed a few paces away from me was a little girl. She was probably five years old and seemed to be immersed in her own world. Suddenly, the girl stopped and looked around. She seemed to search for someone with her eyes. Failing to find that person, she called out a name. I stopped and looked around to see who she was calling out to. Many people walked by, immersed in their own thoughts either asking the divine for favours or thinking of some closer to earth mundane matters. No one seemed to take an interest in the little girl. Everyone was doing their rounds of the temple in auto-pilot mode, and the distressed little girl was off the flight path. It was clear to me that the distressed little girl was lost. The little girl was now calling out someone's name loudly and desperation was creeping into her voice. I moved closer to her and heard her say "Appa". My knowledge of Tamil helped. I realized that the girl was looking for her father. I asked the girl if she knew her father's name. My intention was to get that announced on the public address system if there was one. However, she seemed more intimidated by this strange man asking her for her father's name. I pulled in additional resources, asking my wife and daughters to help the identification process. The sight of the girls calmed her and she mentioned her father's name. I walked up to the temple office and started explaining the situation to the person there. Within a few minutes, a lady with an infant in her arms appeared and the little girl's face lit up. She had seen her mother. The mother looked equally distressed and lost. She asked us if the kid had troubled us, about how she had suddenly disappeared and thanked us all in one breath. Her pleading eyes said " Don't judge me. I am not a negligent mother." We saw the pain in her eyes as she hugged her daughter and took her away. As the mother and the girl went away in happy re-union, my daughter remarked "I can still feel the shivers. Imagine getting lost....".
Yes, imagine getting lost in a sea of humanity. Imagine your fear as indifferent folks look through you and walk past you. Imagine the rush of distressing thoughts as strange people crowd you out. Imagine the feeling of being lost. I recollect my school days when I had moved from a little hill town to the big city. In the little town, I used to walk to school. But in the city, I had to go to school by the crowded local bus. The bus was usually overcrowded and people were hanging out of the open doors. There was usually no way you could get in especially as the bus hardly stopped, it only slowed down at the bus stop and you had to jump on or off. I really felt lost in that big city transition and that bus was just a metaphor for a lot of other adjustments. I remember falling off the bus on my second week and being rather embarrassed by the fall. I felt humiliated, lonely and lost. Today, when I look around I see enough people with their fears and lonely battles. People lost in the social milieu and the humdrum of life, with no one to notice the pain. Everyone has the same fears and pain, the need to be recognized, the need to find their way. Look around and see beyond the facade of indifference. Be it at your workplace or community, there are people needing to be acknowledged. New collegues finding their way around new settings, first time workers understanding the corporate workplace. Can we help them please? Imagine being lost in a crowd. Imagine being lost in a sea of humanity. Imagine being lost in indifference. I can still feel the shivers.