Dubai-based Gopal Sriniwasan holding up the wallet and the treasured photo of his daughter Nikita after Dubai Police traced and recovered his lost belongings. Image Credit: Seyyed de L'lata/Gulf News

Last week, I received a call from a gentleman who introduced himself as a resident of Dubai for 27 years. His name was Gopal Sriniwasan. An Indian expat and father of three, he said a piece titled Lost and Found in Dubai: Values vs Valuables that appeared in this column on March 14 had prompted him to contact me. He wanted to share his own experience in this context.

The March 14 article had dwelt upon how highly advanced systems enable Dubai Police to trace missing items and return them to their owners. It also talked about how honest residents do their bit in handing over lost items that they chance upon to the authorities.

It was against this backdrop that I braced myself to listen to the caller. But nothing could have prepared me for what ensued.

Sriniwasan’s story went like this.

A sales manager with a private company, he lost his wallet on March 5. It had gone missing from his car parked near his residence in Deira.

Expectedly, he said the wallet was very precious to him. As any wallet would be to its owner. But unlike most others, he was not unduly worried about the money, the credit and debit cards, driving licence or other documents that the wallet contained.

His main concern was the photos of his children – a 23-year-old physically challenged daughter and a pair of twin boys, aged 21 – that were also inside the wallet.

The precious photo of Nikita in a sitting position. It was taken against all odds when she was eight years old. Image Credit: Supplied

Sriniwasan said the photo of his daughter, Nikita, was especially priceless. And with good reason.

Nikita, he let on, suffered from multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord, and was bedridden since she was a child. In all these years, there was only one time the family was able to get a picture of hers in a sitting position and that photo was the one inside the wallet. Now it was gone.

The picture was taken against all odds 15 years ago – when Nikita was just eight.

Nikita, 23, at her home in Dubai. She suffers from multiple sclerosis and has been bedridden since she was a child. Image Credit: Supplied

Sriniwasan recalled how the family had made special arrangements to prop her up with enough but concealed support from behind in order to capture her in an upright position for the photo. As luck would have it, the copy of the photo inside the wallet was the only one they had left. So when it was gone, he was completely shattered.

Following due procedure, the distressed father subsequently lodged a complaint at the nearest police station. He explained the situation and expressed his sentiments about the loss of his daughter’s photo as it was too much to bear.

“Nikita has always been my source of inspiration and motivation,” he said, adding that the police officer who attended to him at the station gave him a patient hearing when he spoke about his daughter.

Having done what he could, Sriniwasan returned home with a heavy heart. Much to his dismay, there was no news about the wallet over the next few days. But somehow, he could not get himself to lose hope, especially since he had read about Dubai Police recovering over 80,000 lost items in 2021.

His gut feeling was right and sure enough, he received a call from the police on March 21. He was told that his wallet had been found and that he could go to the police station to identify it and collect it.

Sriniwasan rushed to the station. Needless to say, the first thing that he did when he was handed over the wallet was to look for Nikita’s photo. And lo and behold – there she was, as precious as ever, looking straight into his eyes from within a tiny white frame.

Sriniwasan’s joy knew no bounds. He was choked with emotion and held her close to his heart, even as he profusely thanked Dubai Police.

It was a truly heartwarming story. A big salute to Dubai Police from us as well. 

PS: The credit and debit cards, driving licence and photos of the twin boys that were inside the wallet were also intact.