A couple of days ago, my sister found this link on facebook. It was a picture of a little boy who’d gone missing. And his father had been posting it on his wall. Everyday. In the hope that someone would notice and remember his face and recognize it somewhere so maybe his son could come home again.
A lot of people noticed. There’s 697 comments on this link if you visit it right now, and more than 4000 on another one, and about 400 on a third. People have been sharing it and forwarding it and hoping the boy is fine and is found soon. A network-full of goodwill and empathy and outrage. I’m not sure how much any of it really helped – the police found the boy and brought him home today – but it’s nice to see how many strangers can be moved by tragedies that don’t directly affect them. It kind of validates my theory that people are more often good than bad. Even though the world is a place where children go missing in the blink of an eye.
For about 20 minutes two years ago, we thought we’d lost Tink. My mother had taken him downstairs and the children said they’d play with him while she went to the shops and the watchman said he’d keep an eye on him. So my mom said alright. The shop was barely 5 minutes away. But the watchman had to go check on the water supply. And all the children were playing hide-n-seek and some of them saw my nephew wander away but they didn’t call out or try to stop him, because they were children too and playing hide-n-seek and they didn’t want to get caught..When my mom called me downstairs I went crazy. There’s more than a hundred buildings in my complex, and no walls. I searched for 20 whole minutes before I found him. He was pretty far away from home for a 3 year old who doesn’t know how to say his address yet, and he was terrified. .
I can’t bear to think how it must be to go through that and not find your kid at the end of 20 minutes. Or an hour or a day or a week. These people lost their son 15 days ago. I wonder how they managed to survive till today when nobody knew for sure if the boy would ever come home again..
I had this book called 70 Favorite Stories when I was a kid, Zonk. And it had a story in it about an orphan boy who lived with his aunt and uncle and wandered away one day to find a castle full of lost things. He found his dead mother and father in it, and his grandparents and ancestors and old toys and torn pages from books and clothes that had stopped fitting him ages ago and – this I remember clearly – every soap bubble he’d ever blown. All these things that he’d lost, some that he didn’t even remember. But they were all his and they were gathered together and waiting in one room..The idea has fascinated me ever since.
I haven’t seen that book in years. I spent a whole day looking for it once, but it’s not anywhere in my house, or in my sister’s. It’s another one of those things that I’ve lost. And I’m a forgetful person, Zonk, so there’s really quite a lot of those. I think I’d like to see some of that stuff again: 70 Favorite Stories and my copy of Catcher in the Rye and this cheap harmonica which is the only gift I remember from my 2 years of hanging up Christmas socks (we didn’t have stockings) and my ridiculously large collection of bathroom tile bits and a pen that dispensed post-it notes and a special plectrum that was blue on one side and green on the other. I’m guessing there must be way more on that list. But I can’t think of any more right now..
Now here’s something not really related to what I’ve been talking about so far: but I’ve never cared much for superheroes. I just never felt the urge to read superhero comics or watch the movies. And when people asked what superpower I’d like to have, I never really knew what to say. I suppose I’d like to to be able to fly or turn invisible. I definitely don’t want stretchy arms or superhuman strength. And I know I’d hate to be able to read minds. But there was never one thing that I knew I wanted.
But I’ve been thinking about these things recently, Zonk, and I’ve found my answer. My superpower would be a superhuman ability to find lost objects.
It would make a terrible movie, I suppose. Oh well.