Children

Lost in the mall

Illustrations: Sreejith R. Kumar  

Shriya hated going to the mall with her mom and granny. While they shopped for groceries and vegetables, she walked along the aisles filled with junk food that she couldn’t have.

Sometimes she played games on her mobile phone, which made her granny angry. “Can’t you do something useful with your phone?” she would chide. The mall was more fun when Shriya was with her cousins, eating ice creams and pizzas, watching movies and playing games at the fun arcade.

One Sunday, Shriya decided that she would go to the book store and spend the money she had saved over the last three months, while her mom and granny shopped as usual. As she browsed through the best-selling childrens’ books section at the entrance, she spotted a girl standing outside.

What’s wrong?

One look at the tear-stained face and Shriya knew something was wrong. She watched the girl, who was trembling and crying, for a few minutes and then approached her.

“Are you lost?” Shriya asked. “Let’s find your parents. What language do you speak?”

The girl blinked but didn’t say anything. Shriya dragged her into the bookstore and browsed through the Geography books.

She picked up an atlas and pointed to India. “India is my home. Where is yours?” The girl beamed. She grabbed the atlas from Shriya and pointed to South Korea.

“Do you speak Korean?”

Lost in the mall

The girl nodded. Shriya whipped out a phone from her purse and opened a website that would translate English to Korean and vice versa.

“Are you lost?” she typed into the box. The girl saw the phone screen and nodded. Shriya turned the translation mode from Korean to English and passed the phone to the girl.

“I got separated from my parents when we were coming out of the movie theatre.”

“Do you remember your father’s phone number? Call him!” Shriya showed the translated message to the girl, who nodded and promptly typed the numbers. Her face lit up when someone answered. Shriya listened attentively, as she heard the girl speak; it was the first time she was hearing someone speak Korean.

A few minutes later, a middle-aged couple emerged from the elevator. The little girl ran towards them with outstretched arms. “Thank you,” said the girl’s father. “We have spent the last hour searching. Lucy and her mother arrived from Seoul yesterday. She doesn’t understand a word of English.”

The girl waved to Shriya. “Bye,” she said and went to look for her mother and grandmother in the grocery store.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:43:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/lost-in-the-mall/article32818671.ece

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