Note: Based on a true story!
She struggled with the seat belt buckle for a few seconds; her husband, sitting beside her, knew better than to try help her with it. She finally leaned back to the seat, closed her eyes and sighed heavily. Her husband had already as always acted upon his intrigue for the wings through the window. To her right was a boy in mid-twenties, busy with his phone, probably updating his Facebook for the holiday!
As the flight tore its way through the Delhi November winds, she held both the hand-rests tightly. “First time to Thailand?” asked the young fellow still distraught at being asked to put his phone away. “Fourth” she replied with a meek smile. “Wow! You two must really love Thailand. Any particular reason?” “Meeting my two daughters, hopefully” she replied with a wry smile. Her husband put a hand on hers and tapped it to make her feel better.
The flight reached Don Mueang International Airport around midnight. They had already booked their hotel so took a cab straight to it after descending. While her partner of seventeen years slept peacefully, she just couldn’t bring herself to do the same. One would think that the avidity would wither after so many years but she stayed up all night with a few cups of tea, just reading the local newspaper. She had been to every part of Thailand the first time she visited, dark and beautiful alike.
It was finally nine in the morning. They decided to go to the mall, the same place where she last met her daughters. Indians oft don’t feel out of place at any Asian tourist destination; the population always remains the same. It was a very busy Sunday morning and tourists were flocking everywhere to buy the overpriced handicrafts. They had walked fifty paces when she decided to sit on a bench situated in the middle of the ground floor. Her husband followed suit right after. They sat there, waiting for an hour, just observing everybody; not a word nor a movement. They couldn’t see their daughters anywhere.
She had learnt a bit of Thai owing to her multiple visits and special interest. The mall had changed compared to her first visit. There were guards at every shop and the entire area was under CCTV surveillance; tourist safety by Thailand she presumed. She had learnt not to trust foreign lands, and that made no difference to it.
Finally, she decided to get up. She went to one of the shop guards of a busy Silk shop. She ruffled through her purse and took out two photos. “Have you seen them anywhere near?” she spoke in broken Thai. The guy shook his head. “They might look a bit different now, are you sure?” He looked at her blankly to imply in the negative.
“BUT THEY WERE JUST HERE, WALKING BEHIND US!!!” she screamed. Her husband who was inquiring in another shop, rushed to her. He held her to pacify her. She broke into tears while she mellowed down. They receded to the bench. She finally composed herself, still leaning on his shoulder. She got up again and went towards the bakery amidst concerned stares by him and the strangers who had just witnessed the breakdown. She came back to him with a small strawberry cake adorned by a candle burning on it.
“She would have turned twelve today, and her sister, the ever responsible teen she would have been, would have made sure we had strawberry” she smiled while cutting the cake. His eyes were now moist, “We need to stop, move on; it has been three years!”
Child abduction for slavery and sex trade is not an alien concept in Thailand with numerous instances (oft not highlighted). The two girls were nine and twelve years old when they were abducted from a mall in Thailand. The parents went there every year in the hope of finding their daughter.
‘ Lost are the souls and lost is the Ark
Let the deluge begin, let none get on! ‘