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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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School-scared boy runs away

Howrah, Sept. 10: 'Ma, I am going away; I will call you up and let you know (where I am),' a 12-year-old wrote to his mother, before running away from home yesterday.

The boy, a student of a Howrah missionary school, could not take the stress piled on him.

'My principal scolded me for having lost my library card,' said the letter that Prayag Sen (name changed) left behind. 'He told me that my guardians would be called to school and if that did not resolve matters, I would be debarred from sitting for my examinations.'

Prayag, however, assured his mother that he would be in touch with her. He left the letter carefully on his desk, with a paperweight holding it down. Then he gathered his kit bag, put some clothes in it, picked up some money he had saved and left home. He is yet to return.

The time was around noon. Prayag's father was at work and his mother in the bathroom. When she came out and found her son missing, she thought he had gone to a neighbour's to play.

But when Prayag did not return for a few hours, his mother got worried and started checking with neighbours and friends. When they said they had no idea where the boy was, she decided to call up her husband in office.

As she was rushing to the phone, the note on the desk caught her eye. But she did not believe what she read. 'We could never imagine that a child like him would leave home and run away,' Prayag's mother said, admitting that the 'strain at school was immense'.

With her husband back home, the search resumed, but to no avail. The truth began to sink in: Prayag had really run away, unable to handle the pressure at school. A complaint was lodged at Shibpur police station.

'My son is a mediocre student, but the school is good in academics and very competitive,' his mother said. 'I think he could not cope with the pressure being piled on him, which is why he ran away. I am certain it is not very different in other good schools across the city.'

After a night spent worrying, the Sens suddenly received a call from their son at 11.30 am today.

'Baba, I am in Vizag,' Prayag said. 'I want to come back home. Will you come and fetch me' The father has rushed to find his son.

Prayag's mother, however, said the boy did not say where in Vizag he was, probably because he did not know it himself. 'My husband has gone to find him and bring him back home. I am praying that they both come back home safe,' the mother said, sitting by the phone, hoping it would bring some news.

Howrah SP Mihir Kumar Bhattacharjee said police have been put on alert and all measures are being taken to bring Prayag back.

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