When we got back from court this morning, the poet and I, from afar, thought somebody had stolen my parking spot (parking spots are very precious at our premises, but that's a whole other story), but as we got closer we realised the car was parked in the spot next to mine. However, when we got out of the car, we were in for a new shock. At the back seat of the car was a baby (my guess would be that it was a child of 9-10 months), sitting in her car seat. Luckily, to my slight relief we saw that all four windows were well rolled down, but feeling the intense heat ourselves and seeing the many beads of sweat on her forehead, although snoozing away, she was clearly getting warmer by the minute.
A million thoughts went through my (and the poet's) mind, some voiced, some not. What kind of parent can leave their child in this heat, no wait, what kind of parent leaves their baby unattended in a car park?! My motherly instinct was urging me to pick up the child, take her to the office, leave a note for the mother or father directing to our office, but at least ensuring she'd get away from the boiling heat of a car in the equatorial mid-day sun. As we were walking away I told the poet that we ought to at least inform the car park security guard that there was a baby in the car so that he'd keep an eye on her, but as we turned to take a last look at her, the poet noticed a man had gone to sit in the car, giving proof to what the poet had earlier said "this child has been left with someone other than her parents".
Our guess is that the driver (or whoever he was), after being left to tend and care for the child, had probably felt nature calling and decided that there was no risk in leaving her for several minutes while taking a quick whizz round the corner. He could easily have come back to find an empty car. I may have snatched the baby with good intentions, and leaving a note, but someone else could have taken her forever. How many seconds do you need to snatch a child?
For so many reasons, the image of the little baby girl, soundly sleeping, in a car with its windows rolled down, with sweat rolling down her tiny forehead, will stay with me for long. I wonder how her parents would react if they knew how she had been left, or do they practice the same behaviour? We'll never know.
The many different scenarios to what could have happened to her are still playing in my head. For all we know, even the man we saw enter the car may have been a complete stranger, after all the windows were down so anyone could unlock the car.
I urge any parent who reads this to give your child(ren) a big hug and show them all the unconditional love they deserve, and to all us childless people, let's make a silent promise to never ever put our children at such unnecessary risk, making them innocent victims of our foolish mistakes.