Name of the Team: tête-à-tên
Read the previous part of the story here Part I, Part II
Juhu Beach, Mumbai – 14:00 HRS. -18:00 HRS
“Ah! Mumbai –I love you” exclaimed Jennifer capturing the perfect shot with her Nikon D7100 for her assignment on coastal lives. Capturing the changing coastal landscape all they way from Cochin to Mumbai. She had developed a knack of capturing faces and places using natural light to better the effect.
It was difficult to figure out what was more radiant–the flash in the camera or its owner. Jennifer chose fluorescent colored accessories that adorned her slender neck and silky arms. The royal blue phoenix tattoo needed a refill but still stood out as her message to the world. A near perfect example of a dusky southern belle with a chic sense of dressing. A carefully-careless sense of style,white cotton shirt half tucked in her casual pair of mint-colored shorts.
She panned the camera west to east capturing the essence of the ever busy Mumbai streets. Children playing on the beach, food stalls, flies, smoke billowing from a kettle, vendors and their trinket stalls, women walked down the street with their baskets perfectly balanced over their heads and babies by their sides draped in a typical Maharashtrian style Sari. Serpentine queues waiting for the bus on the other side of the road. Few steps away from the bus stand was a little girl in a frilly frock and two pony tails, perhaps with her elder brother, enjoying the strawberry ice creams. A bunch of girls, fashionistas, were chit chatting, sitting on a rock by the road. A middle aged couple sheepishly held each others hand, oblivious to the world going by, looking into each others eyes as the sun prepared to set in the backdrop.
There was a shot for every moment.Jennifer could not have asked for more.
Versova, Mumbai – 19:45 HRS. -20:30 HRS
It was nearly impossible to recognize the elegant Tara with all the scruffiness. Her puffed eyes gave away her mindset. She pressed the third button on the elevator at least a dozen times. Digging into the handbag, she searched for the keys and her cell phone.
“Yes, here it is”, Tara mumbled irritatingly. The clanking of the keys did not distract her from unlocking the main door with one hand while she speed dialled Shekhar’s number with the other. “Shekhar, any clue?”, she asked hopefully, yet knowing the response. “I’m trying my best,‘sweetheart?’, the word echoed in her mind for a fraction of a second, but the pain of her missing daughter overshadowed it.
‘Tara, did you post it on Facebook?’he asked.‘Huh – oh yes, I think, uh no, let me check’ she stuttered. “Bye”, and he disconnected the call. Tara rushed towards her laptop. Her fingers mistyped a number of times a simple message. A cry for help from a helpless mother. As the hands of the clock rolled over, she cried incessantly, while writing a note about her missing cherub. She picked up her favorite picture – Roohi in a cheerful mood and colorful attire. Tara made sure that her daughter’s face was identifiable and cropped the rest of the photograph.
Tara Dutta had never been so nervous before entering a ‘post!’ Parallely, she called up her entire contact list friends and relatives alike, to spread the word. Within no time there were 80 comments and 261 shares. Shares looked more convincing to her than the sympathetic and sorry messages. Some even clicked on the “Like” button.
Ramada Hotel, Juhu. Mumbai – 20:15 HRS-21:00 HRS
Just when Jennifer was about to close the Facebook page, it refreshed. Her selection went from “Most recent to Top Stories”.“Holy crap! Haven’t I seen this little one before?”, Jennifer sat up on the bed. “How is it possible? Where have I seen her?” “I must’ve spotted somewhere!” her mind went on a time loop.She clicked on the profile details just to double check the hunch.Yet she could not point exactly why she felt a sense of déjà vu.
Jennifer kept on reading the comments and messages so that she could place the picture to the right location. Not able to find a connection, she switched off the laptop and lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. And then it struck her. ‘Yes the camera’! She yelped.
Capturing shots from the time she set foot in Mumbai, her camera had one thousand two hundred and thirty four photographs. Her fingers never tired browsing through those hundreds of images of the mayanagri in hopes of finding the little kid in one of its lanes.
The pictures covered the essence of this majestic city with a visage of young and old, rich and poor, the happy and the sad but none had managed to capture the little miss sunshine.When Jennifer was almost on the verge of giving up, she saw a similar face. A black and white photo of a little girl slurping an ice cream amidst the smoke and dust of the heavy traffic near Juhu Tara Road. ‘That’s her! I knew I had seen her. This is unbelievable!’
She went back to the Facebook post and compared the two photographs, back and forth, not once, not twice, but at least for fifty times before she could believe her eyes were true. They found Roohi.
To read more, click Part IV
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