I had never been fond of supermarket shopping. Wondering round aisles with a trolley full of food just wasn’t my cup of tea. I hated having to walk around pushing a heavy trolley which I had little control over. However, when I was 7 years of age, the journey to the supermarket seemed like a big adventure. When I got there though, I just became impatient to go home.
There was one occasion when I desperately wanted to go home. I was still 7, and my father was trying to persuade me to come shopping with him. When I finally gave in, my brother decided that he wanted to go too. My father didn’t like the thought of taking my brother and myself as there was only a year between us and we always end up fighting. He soon realised that either way, someone would be hurt and at this rate it looked like everyone would be angry. My brother was the only one who ended up winning, because we all set off for the dreaded supermarket.
When we arrived it was like nothing had ever happened since the last time I came there. I thought that everything would be the same with the same routine, as it always was; first the fruit and vegetables, then the bread, the milk, and so on, with my brother and I tailing behind my father. I was always fascinated by the way some people took things off the shelf and placed them in their trolleys, the way the different foods were stacked and also how the packaging varied on the same product. There was one main reason why I went shopping – the chance that I could find something that appealed to me, which my father would buy.
I was staring at some of the foods in the frozen foods aisle, so absorbed in what I was doing that I didn’t notice my father and brother had disappeared.
When I came out of my trance and realised what was going on, I was in a state of confusion. ‘Where were they?’, ‘Why had they not taken me?’, ‘Had they left me alone here?’ and ‘Why?’ were the most popular questions whizzing round and round my head, so much so, that I began to feel dizzy. I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I wasn’t sure if they were going to come back for me or not. I didn’t know if I should go up to somebody for help, or if I should look for my father and brother right away. I ran about like a headless chicken. I could feel my stomach churning with dread. My mouth became itchy and dry, with a lump forming in the back of my throat as I struggled to find them. My eyes, too, became itchy, and anything but dry. I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyeballs. With every step the place became ten times bigger. I now understood why they called it a supermarket. I could never find them here, ever. I was lost.
‘Oh why wasn’t I concentrating?!’ I kept on thinking. I knew that they were going to be around here somewhere, but a significant amount of my mind was in turmoil. My mind just kept on doubting the fact that I was going to find them. I was determined not to cry, but I so desperately wanted to. I was frustrated, not only with myself, but also with my father and my brother. ‘Where were they?’ The question just kept on pestering at my head. ‘Where were they?’ The fear of being alone in the world was just too much for me.
I wished that they would magically reappear just as they had suddenly disappeared. I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of being afraid and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself. I wanted to crawl up into a ball until it was all over. As I wondered aimlessly through the supermarket, I felt the sudden prickliness of the hairs on the back of my neck, as if they were standing on end. My heart was beating out of control. The panic was affecting my thinking. ‘Oh please God, let me find them.’ I thought. Everything was moving so fast and I couldn’t keep up. I began to whimper quietly.
I could see the hefty trolleys clashing against each other, almost as if they were waging war. The noise, of the trolleys and the bustling, crowded supermarket, was quite deafening.
As I looked carefully at each and every aisle, they all began to look exactly the same and I started to lose every last hope of ever getting home, safe and sound. Feeling scared and extremely alone, I searched everywhere, trying hard to blink back the tears. The brightness of the lights were too much for me to take. I was so lost and confused and disorientated. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The tears that I had tried to keep inside, just came out like a flash flood.
When I was on my last shred of hope, I caught sight of something that had seemed so very familiar. My father’s jacket!
I ran, giddy from the thought of being found. They were by the confectionery aisle. Feeling rather overwhelmed, I hugged my father affectionately. My father and brother were confused at this point, but I didn’t worry about trivial things like that.
“Where did you go? I couldn’t find you anywhere!” I said.
“We didn’t go anywhere…” My father tried to explain.
“What?! I thought that you had left me.”
“We just thought you had gone to look for something. We tried to find you but you were nowhere to be found,” he answered. So they hadn’t forgotten about me after all! They were even looking for me! I had never felt such happiness, such joy. I was finally safe and sound. I felt that I had grown six feet from my shrunken state. All anger that I had ever felt, just suddenly flushed out of my system. For some reason I could feel my throat drying up again, with the lump too, and the tears forming behind my eyeballs, but I wasn’t afraid or anxious this time. I was happy. I felt kind of numb from all the relief. I was going to be all right.