When I came out of the building, I had this familiar feeling that I had forgotten something. I looked at the items in my hand – a brochure, a leaflet someone had handed me on my way out, what did I miss? Of course. My mobile phone. I must have left it where I was sitting. 

I asked him to wait and went back. I did not expect to find it. No one can resist the sight of an abandoned phone and refrain from stealing it. At least, that has been my experience.

It was new, and it was mine. Everything that I could tell another soul and everything I could not – my phone knew it all. I could wink at it and it would know why. Losing it would be like losing a part of myself. As I walked in past the crowd thronging the building, I was certain it would not be there. I kicked myself for forgetting it.

There were so many staircases in that building – why was there so many of those, everywhere, going up and down, and every where? It was as though I was in a maize of staircases. Which one did I just use on my way out after the meeting?

One seemed familiar, and I went up. Yes, they were all there, the smiling adults and the playing children. The balloons, the toys, the noise. The phone was still there in my seat. It was not stolen! Of course, if you leave a mobile phone among children, it will not be lost. On the contrary, the children who find it would go out of their way to hand it back to you. Between childhood and adulthood springs the first inkling of dishonesty.

It was such a relief to find it again. It was not gone. Thank God. It would have been tragic. Wonder why emotions are so heightened in dreams. The immense fear of losing the phone, the overwhelming relief of finding it – but those were nothing compared to what was coming.

It was time to get out of the building, and the maize confronted me again. Which way had I come up? Are these staircases moving like those in Harry Potter stories? Why were there so many of them? Which way should I go? Why was I so confused? I don’t usually lose my way. Today I feel so muddled.

I tried to remember the way I had come up. Those set of steps, then the turn – to the right or left? I had to choose one at random and trust my instincts. 

Wrong. I ended up on the other exit at the far side of the building. What was this – a mall? Vehicles were flowing out the gate. I looked back. I could see the numerous staircases all the way to the other side. I had to get there. He was waiting. That was where I should be. But I could not just go straight. I had to choose the steps.

I closed my eyes and tried to picture the location and the route. How did one get to the other exit? What did I have to do to go home? No one was paying any attention. Who can show me the way? Why were there no directions to the Exit? Why was I feeling so scared?

I was lost. I was LOST. It was just a damn building with infinite rows of staircases. And I was stuck in them. Helpless.

I opened my eyes. Daylight was streaming in. A faint sense of relief washed over me. I wasn’t really lost. I was safe in my bed. But I was trembling. The magnitude of that fear remained in my mind for the most part of the morning…