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Early morning hours on our third day in Belgrade turned out to be unexpectedly eventful. When I say early morning I mean 3 a.m. when most people are bundled up inside their quilts and sleeping soundly. So were we when the urge to use the washroom nudged me awake and I reluctantly got up.

Just as I got out of the washroom a minute later, I heard an unmistakable knock on the door. Knock? I paused on my way back to the bed and stared at the door. I had already checked the time when I woke up, so I didn’t have to check it again. Who could be calling at the unearthly hour of 3 a.m, on a cold and rainy day at our hotel room of all places?

“Was that a knock?” asked the now awake L&M.

“Yes,” I replied.

Puzzled, we stared at each other for a moment and then he got up to investigate. He opened the door a crack, but it was unceremoniously pushed open …and a boy of about six or seven walked in.

“Hey!” said the L&M, “Are you lost or something? This isn’t your room. Which room number are you looking for?”

“I want to go the bathroom,” the boy said,

“That’s alright. But which is your room?

The boy didn’t reply. He pushed open the door of the washroom adjacent to the front door and went in.

The L&M asked me to call the front desk while he peered out to check the corridors for anyone who had lost a kid.

The boy meanwhile reappeared having done his business and instead of walking out started checking out our room. He looked at me (Who is she?), at our bags (Whose are these?), and next he walked to the window and pulling the curtains aside looked out (Where am I?) He didn’t say a word and paid absolutely no attention to our repeated queries. He seemed to be in his own world.

All this while the front desk remained predictably elusive, not deigning to answer us. When things had just about got to an impasse, we heard a voice in the corridor calling out. At last. Someone was out there looking for the boy!

“He is here!” the L&M said stepping out.

It was the boy’s father, frantic with worry. He had woken up to find the boy missing. Apparently the boy had opened the front door and walked out of their room which was at the end of the corridor from ours. Since there was a language barrier we couldn’t be sure if the kid had been sleepwalking or had opened the front door by mistake instead of the one to the washroom and got lost.

Both of us were relieved when the boy ran to his dad. For one it showed the boy was not seeking help (We had visions of a boy escaping and seeking help in from strangers in another room!), and for another we wouldn’t be accused of kidnapping a boy in a foreign land. Both are scenarios commonly found in the movies and shows we watch.

With the matter of the Early Morning Intruder settled we went back to bed and slept soundly a few hours more. 🙂

© Shail Mohan 2022