There are some of us who are simply more prone to losing things. When I was a young boy in school I lost things often. It was tragic and heartbreaking but I never could figure out why this happened with me. In those days, I wasn't prone to forgetting in the way one can as they get older.
When my mom asked me what happened, I was either dumbstruck or extremely creative with my excuses. A beautiful combo of a water bottle and lunch box was lost on the first day of it's use. When asked about it I said that the bottle flew away.
Since we started living in Prague we have lost our fair share of things as well. A jacket that our son took off in a crowded garden was the first thing we lost. In vain I walked many steps back. Though it seems unlikely anyone took it with them I could not trace it's exact location again. We lost another couple of bottles on our travels both inside and outside the city. It was my fault once and once it was the wife. The Patil family is perhaps cursed when it comes to bottle retention. I left an umbrella behind in a bus as well.
These losses came in a rather short period of time. We had to acknowledge that we had a problem. So we had become extra vigilant with bottles and umbrellas since then.
It was a chilly Saturday. We had been invited by one of my son's friends parents to their newly occupied house a little outside the city. It involved a short train ride so we decide to pick up some reading material. Me, my kindle while my wife was reading the book Same as Ever.
We had a few minutes until the train departed so we settled down on a bench to wait. Time caught up with us and we suddenly realized we only had a couple of mins to board the train nearby. So we picked up our stuff and got in. The train began to move and my wife realized she didn't have the book with her. We checked the coach in which we were seated, and my backpack for the book. She soon realized that she hadn't brought the book with her.
For a few minutes we speculated about where it might have been left behind before settling down. I had already begun to search on the internet to find a replacement because we had got this one from our recent trip to India.
But we soon put the ordeal out of our mind and spent the next few hours having a grand time with the kids. In the evening we boarded the train back. As we got nearer to Prague I started thinking about the book again. As the train pulled into the station I exited quickly. I was thinking of all the places I would look for the book. It did not feel entirely rational but I thought let's do it anyway.
It was quite dark by this time and the lights in the station were muted. I honed in on the bench we were sitting at before we left. From the distance I saw what felt like a white book lying next to the support handle of the bench. My initial thought was, my eyes were playing tricks on me. I was being irrational in my hope that I would find the book in the same crowded place, seven hours after it was left behind.
My pace quickened as I approached the bench. And there it was Same As Ever. Not a mark on it. Untarnished and waiting for us to resume reading it. My wife reached me just as I picked it up and turned around. Her face lit up.
It's the simplest things that can give you the most profound sense of joy. It's so rare that the things we give up on as entirely lost are found again. That book was easily replaceable. But finding it again was the highlight of our little trip. I sometimes wonder what my eight year old self would have felt if I returned to school the day after I lost my pens, compass boxes, bottles and the things I cannot even recall today.
The joy would have been a hundred times more than when I found the book again. It's because losing something like that back then, in my family was a lesson to be learnt. It would never be replaced by the same nice thing again. It's strange how as adults we can take so much for granted just because the power to replace a loss lies entirely in our hands.
Do I think now, that my family was cruel in how they dealt with the losses? Not at all. They had to frugal and wise with their money while imparting life lessons to me at the same time. Did I learn my lesson. Partially yes, because at least we feel guilty about our carelessness. Followed by the usual. It's alright, we can get a new one 😀