An elderly lady when she saw us in the street from the terrace of her house came running towards us and enquired if there had come any telegram from Mumbai for her. On getting a negative reply she wept and went back with moist eyes. Her wait for a telegram was no less than an ordeal, as the reason for it was quite tragic:
The woman was childless. Her husband, a policeman, found a kid stranded at the railway station. He brought the kid home and they adopted him. They were very happy and they thought that their prayers for a child had been answered by God.
But their joy was short lived. One day, the boy went to the market to get some medicine. There he saw that the name and the address of the manufacturer of the medicine was that of his real father in Mumbai.
The memories of his family and his life in Mumbai came flooding back to the boy. He immediately went to the telegraph office and sent to the address a telegram. The joy of his parents in Mumbai, when they received the telegram, knew no bounds. The very next day they travelled to Kashmir and took back their boy.
While bidding goodbye to his weeping foster parents in the Kashmiri town, the boy promised them that he will not forget them and will send them telegrams.
But soon the telegrams stopped coming. The foster parents kept waiting for the telegrams, but the boy had forgotten them in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai.
Then the events that followed took a fateful turn .The maid who lived in their neighbourhood gave birth to a child. This baby closely resembled the Mumbai boy who had forsaken them. They offered to adopt the baby and the maid agreed. The baby was adopted and they lived happily thereafter.
The telegram for which they had earlier waited so much was itself lost in the hustle and bustle of technologies like internet, mobile phones, courier services, etc. Telegraph offices were closed all over the country and the telegraph service ceased to exist. The telegram, too, vanished from our memory just like the foster parents had vanished from the memory of the Mumbai boy.
—The writer is a retired telecom engineer. [email protected]