Runaway Child

I am sure every family has a child from every generation who has expressed his or her desire to run away from home. I have been witness to three such individuals in my family.

My youngest sister was born in a nursing home close to home. At the starting of the lane leading up to the nursing home there was a huge dustbin. And all of us at home never failed to tell her each time we passed that particular lane that we had found her in that dustbin. (Survey shows that this is also a common-told tale in most families, that one of the siblings has been found in some dustbin. And it usually is the youngest one.) I think the poor girl got fed up of being harassed by her older two siblings and one fine day,after getting a scolding from our mother for some misdemeanor, announced that she no longer wanted to live with us and was going away. She was just three years old, and so full of hurt and conviction that she didn’t belong as she had been found in a dustbin.

So she gathered up two dresses and two potatoes and two onions and put them in a steel milk can and got ready to face the world outside. Till today no one has been able to solve the mystery behind the choice of the two potatoes and onions, and why she chose milk can over a bag? Anyway, as she got ready to leave, my mother followed her to the door and asked her if she would like to eat her lunch before she left. Oh yes! She was hungry for sure and agreed to stay back just long enough to eat her meal. And naturally once her tummy was full, she started feeling sleepy and so she quietly went and lay down to sleep. And when she woke up in the evening she had forgotten her grand plans of running away from home.

I relived that moment when my daughter was four years old. I had scolded her for being rude to me. And she was miffed enough with me to want to leave home. I too didn’t protest much when she angrily expressed her desire to do so. Looking a bit sad, I opened the door for her. I could see the hesitation and confusion on her face when she realized that I didn’t have any intention of stopping her. Then she straightened her back and walked out. I gently shut the door. What she didn’t know was that I had switched on the security monitor at the door and could see her in the passageway. Instead of heading down the stairway, I saw her sit on the small counter just outside the door. Both of us quiet on either side of the door. Within 5 minutes she rang the bell. But to ask for a glass of water. Once I complied with that request, she went back to her post by the door. Another 10 minutes passed and the doorbell rang once more. There were too many mosquitoes out there. Could she have some insect repellent? A tube of the same was provided. Then she was back on the counter. I couldn’t resist a smile as I shut the door once again. I could see her clearly through the security camera. After a few minutes, she got fidgety and kept glancing anxiously at the door. Finally, after watching her for sometime, I opened the door and asked her casually, “ You didn’t go?” When she shook her head, I asked her if she would like to come and sit inside? Quietly my daughter came into the house and went into her room. When it was dinnertime she came to the dining table as if nothing unusual had transpired that evening. But since then she really hasn’t wanted to run away from home.

My cousin didn’t want to run away but had a different agenda. My aunt and her 3 three old daughter were visiting us and somewhere during the course of the day, my cousin got a scolding from her mother. Very upset, she came to my mother and asked her for a shopping bag and 10 paisa. She then tugged at her hand and asked her to open the main door of the house. Curious about what she wanted, my mother followed her to the door and asked her where she was off? In a tearful voice she informed my mother that she was going to the market to buy a new mommy who wouldn’t scold her. I really can’t recall how that particular situation was sorted out but these three girls provided us with stories to laugh over whenever we have family reunions.

I think I didn’t mention that all three were born in the same nursing home and were subjected to the same old story of being found in the same old dustbin.


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