-by KParthasarathi Friday, December 07, 2007
Anjaly was very happy as it was the last day at the school before the summer vacation. A young girl of seven, she looked forward to spending the first two days of the holidays with her cousins at her uncle’s place. She slept very late on the previous night after watching Mr. Bean’s movie with her mom. Her uncle who had come to her home a week back had promised to take her directly from the school. There were no books in her bag, just a couple of frocks. The school closed at 12-30pm and parents were to pick up the children at 1pm.Anjaly was playing hide and seek with her class mates. She hid herself in the almirah and slightly closed the door. Being a narrow almirah she lied down comfortably. She waited for her friends to discover her. With the late night, she gradually fell fast asleep. At one when the bell rang all the children ran away to the front portico to be picked up by their moms or dads. None of the children noticed the absence of Anjaly.Her house was very close by but her mom did not come as her uncle was to pick her directly. Her uncle had totally forgotten the promise made. He left on an unscheduled tour for an important meeting the day before .Anjaly’s mom assumed that the girl was having good time with her cousins. There was no abundance of phone or mobile facilities those days.
The durwan made a cursory look in all the rooms and locked them after all the teachers left. He was to go to his native place in Nepal that evening. He handed over the keys to the principal after locking the main gate.
Anjaly woke up after a couple of hours but could not open the door of the almirah.She started crying and thumping the door. It was dark and hot inside. None could hear her wail on the road. She tried hard to open the door several times and succeeded finally. But the doors of her class room were locked and her class was on the rear side. She was hungry and thirsty. The panic and the continuous crying made her fall asleep again.
It was on the third day when her uncle returned home from tour his children started pestering him to bring Anjaly.It was then he remembered the promise he had made to his niece and sister. He presumed that his sister would have taken her home. He went in the evening from his office to her place only to be shocked to learn that her sister was under the assumption the girl was in his house. They ran to the school only to find the doors fully secured. They ran and thither trying to locate the principal’s house. It did not strike them that the girl could be in the school. They apprehended she had been kidnapped. But there was no call for ransom. The parents were not well to do also. The police were approached. Her class mates addresses were collected from the school. None went to her school whose doors were locked. It was only when one of her classmates revealed that they were playing hide and seek, the police decided to check all the rooms and her class in the school. The mother was meanwhile continuously praying to all gods for the well being of her daughter. One day was lost since the uncle returned. When they finally opened the door of her class, she was found crouched unconscious just behind the door. She was rushed to the hospital and despite the best attention she could not be saved. Whom would you blame for this unfortunate tragedy-the careless mom, the forgetful uncle, her class mates, the sloppy durwan who locked the doors without thoroughly examining the rooms or the casual school management for failing to see no children had been left behind?