Jaigopal took out his tooth brush and applied toothpaste on it. The paste he was using was almost exhausted. He had to squeeze a lot to get enough paste on the brush. “Oh! shit.” He cursed himself and hated 0himself for not taking note of things till the very last minute. Some abstract inanimate things do foretell the coming events of the day. Opening the day with a bad note was not a good omen. Rest of the day might not go smoothly. Right then he checked other items like, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, hair gel, liquid detergent etc. They were in sufficient stock. A visit to supermarket was anyway essential. So, he could buy all the stuff requiring to be refilled, in one go. The advantage of supermarket was that while touring and looking for what one needed, he would end up buying some more items which he would not have included in the wanted list.
Visit to supermarket was already there at the back of his mind. Then also he had inserted an alert message. Because, he would go there at the end, only after completing the day’s work at office. While returning from office, he should not go home direct. Otherwise, same story of opening the day with a stiff struggle with the otherwise empty toothpaste, would be repeated. A gentle reminder for self was better. The effort to remind himself was necessary. He was a known workaholic guy. Once buried at work, he would simply forget world around him and had no sense of time either.
Same thing happened that day also. By the time he wound up his work and got up from his work-station, it was quite late. He remembered he had to go to the supermarket. Lest the shop might be shut, he had to hurry. Thank God. He was not very late as to irritate the staff there. He finished his surveys and filled his cart with his requirements and rushed to the cash counter. It appeared that there was no one else in the shop. Probably he was the last customer. The counter clerk was also eager to wind up the sales. After that only, he could check the inventories, tally the accounts and call it a day. Jaigopal felt a bit creepy. He honestly begged to be pardoned for having arrived at the closing hours and detained the counter clerk a little longer. Anybody would be dead tired at the end of the day and he was no exception.
He was about to leave the shop. His mobile phone beeped and alerted him that a strong blizzard already having its sway was about to strike. ‘That means,’ he murmured, ‘I have to wait. I cannot leave now.’ Holding the cart, he waited. Then suddenly he noticed something pulling his leg. In a reflex action, he set his foot apart. He noticed a crawling baby was trying to hold his pants and attempted to get up. Jaigopal looked around. There was nobody. A sense of sheer bewilderment gripped him. “How come, a baby at this hour! That too alone! Crawling to a stranger! myself! Where are her parents? How can they leave her here and go?” Too many thoughts thronged on him. But no answer. He suddenly remembered, -- the cashier. The baby must be his child. So, he took her and went to him. He had shut down the supermarket. He checked the shutters and locked them firmly. Jaigopal stopped him. “Hello sir, your daughter. What about her things? Maybe you locked them inside?”
The cashier gave such a look that Jaigopal was taken aback. In utter surprise he quipped back. ”Me? This baby? What are you talking? I am in a hurry to leave. Before this blizzard gets wilder, I must reach. Sooner the better for you too. It is no time for fool’s play here.”
Suddenly Jaigopal was gripped with a sense of fear. “If this man is not the owner, then who else is? If he goes away, what will I do with this baby? And in this deadly weather.” He told the cashier that the baby did not belong to him either. The cashier simply shrugged his shoulders. “You better go to police. Lodge a complaint there.”
“Hello man, how can I go there. I am a bachelor. I don’t have a baby seat in my car. Neither I can go walking to the police station with the baby in my arms and that too in this awful weather!”
“Ok. Get into my car, I shall drop you there. And that’s all I can do for you.”
Jaigopal loaded his cartload of purchases into the dickey and sat in the car. He told the cashier to drop him at his place so that he would unload his luggage and then go to police with his room-mate. That sounded better. Cashier felt that he would be relieved with that.
Jaigopal’s friend cum room-mate was fast asleep and was reluctant to come to police station. Neither could they keep the baby with them. They did not have anything that a baby would require, --- like baby foods, feeding bottles, nappies, change of dresses. First of all, they could not think beyond these minimum items. His friend was annoyed. “After all, you came from supermarket. You should have purchased these items also there itself.”
“Hey Idiot. I got this extra luggage tagged to me only when I was waiting outside the shop, that too waiting for those people who left the baby abandoned there in the supermarket. I too must have abandoned this genie there itself. What to do! I am not insane.”
“If so, then you better pay for it now. Why bother me unnecessarily?” On second thoughts, he said.
”Ok, okay. You better call police on phone and inform them.”
Jaigopal did that. But the call did not go. He tried again and again. With distorted sounds and cluttered voices all he could gather was that signals had failed and a terrible snowfall was picking up momentum. The two men with the baby had no choice than to put up with her with no knowledge of how to handle a baby. Thank God. So far, she did not cry or mess up.
Jaigopal had a cousin sister living in the same town. Luckily somewhere nearer their locality. He called her. After umpteen attempts he got her online. He explained to her about his present predicament. He asked her to come down at the earliest possibility and take care of the baby --- till they hand over her to the police. Sunita basically a kind hearted person obliged. She had her own children and certainly was aware of how to deal with a toddler. She came around 2 am. And carried the baby to her place. She called her a bundle of joy.
Next day when weather was cooperative, Jaigopal and Sunita along with the baby approached police station. Jaigopal explained everything in toto. Police officer listened to him patiently and noted down the details. He then finally requested them to keep the baby for a few more days till the parents turned up. Police station had no arrangements to retain or detain the child.
Jaigopal agreed to pay Sunita, expenses incurred on upkeep of baby. After all, some more days till the parents arrived to take back their abandoned child! Very strangely, days rolled on to weeks and weeks to months. There was no trace of parents. Jaigopal visiting Sunita at intervals and paying her for upkeep of baby continued. The only difference was baby of late, took him as stranger and cried when he tried to lift her. They shared a smile started a relationship some months ago and it was turning sour now.
Suddenly one day two burly men in grey suits ushered in and grabbed him by his arms and handcuffed him. They did not give any chance to resist or say a word. Instead they dragged him to their jeep saying, “You know what you did.” Not even in his wildest dreams did he have any idea as to why he was handcuffed or dragged to police station.
They rested only after dumping him into the lock-up room. Jaigopal still stuck in utter confusion and shame, screamed. “What is all this going on? What for am I brought here? What did I do to be handcuffed? I am an honest citizen with a bit of noble heart. Tell me why. I am sure you have imprisoned a wrong person and for a wrong reason.”
One of the officers sarcastically questioned him. “You don’t know what you did, eh?” Then he raised his voice to a very stern tone. “Where are the girls? You scoundrel! Running a brothel and coolly saying ‘I am an honest citizen’ eh?”
How terrible it was for Jaigopal to digest such a blunder imposed on him. He was aghast with anger and agony. ‘Of all people, why me?’ He guessed that the policemen had some terrible misunderstanding. So, he controlled his anger. He asked them how they happened to suspect him. The same police officer replied in the same strict stern voice. “We have no obligation to prove you everything. You are talking too much. Just accept your crime and apologise. You may escape with a lesser dose of punishment. Otherwise we know how to deal with convicts.”
The other police officer asked his colleague to tame down. “After George Floyd case and the BMW wave, we policemen had lost our dignity and respect. Anything we do is viewed as police atrocity. So, don’t be too harsh with goon.” He turned to Jaigopal and told him that on perusal of pending cases in the police station left unattended by his predecessor, he gathered enough information. There was a note saying “Girls under care of Jaigopal”. Address and phone number also he could find out. He must have done lot of investigations to get these clues. Only arresting you was left out, which we completed. All you can do now, is call your lawyer, apply for bail and be prepared to face court trials.”
Jaigopal got the clue and crux of the problem. What was mentioned as investigation by the previous police officer was simply the data furnished by Jaigopal some two years ago, at the time of complaint for searching the parents of the abandoned baby at the supermarket. This was now twisted and turned against him as a new brothel case. He did not know whether he should laugh or cry over this.
The policemen finding him silent, thought that they were at a win-win situation. The rough police-officer of the two, asked Jaigopal if he wanted lawyer to be called. ”Do you want your usual man to be called or do you want to bring in a new one, eh?” Jaigopal was not at all disturbed by their silly taunts. He maintained his cool. He wanted his sister Sunita to come and explain rather than himself telling everything. She came with the little girl thinking that the original parents had at last come to claim their long-last baby. What she found at the police station was something incredible.
She just peeped into the case paper where it was written ‘Girls under care of Jaigopal’ and laughed aloud. The letter l in the word Girl was stretched a little longer to the right side and was left there with a backward stroke that it appeared at a first glance as ‘ls’ and hence girl became ‘Girls’. The girl mentioned in the case was none other than the very girl whom she was looking after. She calls the girl as Kannamma.
The policemen were stone slapped. A mole was escalated to a mountain size. But they had to save their faces. Jaigopal was released. Sunita insisted that a fresh complaint be lodged so that search for the parents be kept alive. The policemen could not believe that any parent would abandon their toddler in a shopping centre. Sunita was quick in telling them a probable guess.
It was possible that father thought that the baby was with her mother and mother rightly believed father had gone with the baby to the car parking. By the time they realized that baby was left behind they had come a long way. They both blamed each other for gross negligence and quarrelled liberally. By then the blizzard too had set in. But Sandra, mother of the baby insisted that they go back to fetch her daughter. Return journey on heaps of ice and icy roads proved fatal for the parents. Due to the car accident and serious injuries they could not come back to get their child. Sunita stopped here. She was silent for a second. Then she added “It is my guess. Reality might be different. You please check.”
Police made a thorough search and found that on that blizzard night, there was a road accident in the nearby area of super market and a couple was taken to hospital. Whether they were the parents of this abandoned girl – about that there was no clue. The police said “let the baby be given to the care of ‘Sacred Hearts’, an orphanage till the parents came back and claimed. But Sunita declined. Whether the girl’s parents were still under treatment, or in coma or worst cum worst dead, no idea. But Sunita was prepared to retain the child till they came and claimed. ‘No orphanage please,’
She said the baby had blended well in her family and all were happy with this Kannamma. She told Jaigopal that there was no need for any monetary help for her upkeep. Sunita would be the all-in-all in charge for girl’s upkeep.
Jaigopal said, “Yes. Yes. She is the divine Krishna reborn. Her name also Kannamma. Lord Krishna was taken to His foster mother at night, on a deadly torrential rainy day. This girl also joined her foster mother the same way. Only difference was on deadly blizzard night. She made me to enact the role Vasudea to carry the baby to her foster mother. A small variation between me and Vasudeva was, I entered the jail after about two years of dropping the baby with foster mother.”
Sunita insisted on the complaint being registered and this time without any spelling mistake and strictly with no room for misunderstanding.
Jaigopal after a long exhaustive tension and trauma came home and had a good sound sleep. In the morning he looked for paste and brush. Oh! A new one. A new tube. A new flavour. A good start for the day. Some abstract and inanimate things do foretell the coming events of the day. In deed a Good Omen. But the Google’s auto correction spelt it as AMEN.
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