RAIPUR: In these times of darkness, reuniting with their long lost son after ten long years was no less than a miracle for this Tamil Nadu couple. Forty-two-year-old Shiva Prakash was wandering in Jagdalpur city of Bastar during the lockdown when he was intercepted by health officials and taken to a quarantine place.
Faced with language barriers, Prakash was unable to tell the officials about his native or identity. "We tried hard to retrieve information about him. A quiet man, he couldn't follow Hindi, but we kept persuading him. After staying here for a few months, he finally wrote a couple of lines in Tamil on a piece of paper. We learnt that his name was Shiva Prakash and he belonged to Echur in Cheyyar of Tiruvannamalai district. We sent his information to his native and confirmed his identity," said Alexander M Cherian, vice-president of Jagdalpur Red Cross Society.
Officials in the Bastar district administration, who are heartened by this reunion, believe that had it not been for the pandemic, Prakash would still be a vagabond.
Prakash managed to inform the officials that he came to Bastar after he boarded a lorry. After being intercepted by the health department, he was not allowed to leave the quarantine centre without verifying his details.
Bastar district administration contacted locals from Prakash's village who further helped in tracing his parents, who had lodged a missing person report a decade back at the local police station.
"We were left surprised as Prakash didn't reveal where was he all these years. During his four-month stay at the quarantine centre, we worked on winning his trust and didn't probe him about his past. Thanks to the efforts of the collector Rajat Bansal, Prakash is with his family," Cherian told The New Indian Express.
Prakash's family members informed the officials that he was suffering from a mental illness. For them, his survival away from home for ten long years still remains a mystery.
Bastar Collector told TNIE that during the review meeting called to plan the safe return of non-locals, Prakash's name came up. "The officials were clueless of his name or address details. The district officials in Tiruvannamalai were contacted to arrange Prakash's safe return," Rajat Bansal said.
Prakash's father Nagappa, elated on his return, has shared the image of his son with his family members and expressed his gratitude.