What you remember from childhood often brings a smile to your face. That innocent, untainted version of yourself, wondrously transformed now into prosaic maturity with all the wisdom (irony?) gleaned from life.
I loved going out in the evenings with Dad and Mom, after being cooped up all day in our small apartment. I remember skipping by Dad’s side one day, holding on to his fingers with mine, as we were walking down the pavement one such evening. I was excitedly telling him about something, but all the while, my (huge, they say) eyes were wandering, taking in the yellow streetlights and the clothes and toys in shop windows.
My story-telling paused when we passed through a small crowd of people coming in the opposite direction. Someone shoved me, and my fingers slipped momentarily. But I was a smart kid, a ‘good girl’ who knew better than to walk alone on the street where the mean-looking cars and angry policemen could come get her . So I caught hold of Dad’s wrist again, knowing he would be pleased with me, and waited for the congratulatory comment I was sure would be coming my way. A few seconds later, when it didn’t come, I impatiently tugged at his wrist (at my eye level) and looked up. “Daddy, look, I didn’t let go of your hand!”
Looking down at me with a thoroughly bewildered expression was a strange man wearing off-white loose clothes. He came to a complete halt and stared at me for a while. I felt a wave of shock and pulled my hand back from his. As I stood there confused and starting to feel really scared, he spoke to me in a strange language. His attire and the lines on his bearded face fueled my fears; he must be the stranger that caught the naughty children who didn’t listen to their parents or eat their food. I quickly tried to recollect if I had indeed been playing with my food that day. I couldn’t remember. I knew he thought so and now he was going to take me away.
Panic set in. I turned round, searching for Mom or Dad, but suddenly the street was full of strange men and veiled ladies, who hurried past us. The tears came, they blurred my vision. The wails threatened to follow when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and then Dad’s face appeared. Relief was immediate, I glued myself onto Dad’s side, while he spoke briefly with the man. I couldn’t wait to get away from him and indignantly tugged at Dad’s fingers, this time really making sure it wasn’t another stranger. And we went on our way.