CHENNAI: After 22 years of losing track of who or where he was from, Motilal had no hopes of uniting with his long-lost family. Yet, it was sheer miracle that brought Motilal back into the safe embrace of his brother Acchelal. This was made possible by the relentless efforts of a few social workers at Udavum Karangal.
Motilal was in a psychiatric home for 14 years, until his memory returned earlier this month. “He realised that he was from a Duari village in Madhya Pradesh,” says Srinivasa Rao, a social worker with Udavum Karangal. But, when they started to look, the NGO workers realised that there were at least three Duari villages in Madhya Pradesh. “We went back, and Motilal remembered the name of a local police station in his village. That was the breakthrough,” says Rao. They contacted a shop in that village, whose keeper confirmed the details.
Soon, Motilal’s brother and a cousin rushed to Chennai to pick him up. “It was a tearful union after 22 long years,” said the brother. Explaining what happened, the cousin says Motilal was married at a very young age and had two sons. He had no job or income, and soon started quarrelling with his wife on a regular basis. The fights turned physical, and the family noticed that Motilal was displaying signs of mental illness. He was being treated at a local hospital when, one day, he went missing.
He was found in Pala district of Kerala in 1998, by Maria Sadanam, a rehab centre. As their facilities were minimal, they moved him to Udavum Karangal in Coimbatore. Once he recovered a little, he was moved to Chennai. “He went missing when I was three-years-old,” says Sanjay Patel, Motilal’s son, who is all set to get married on April 30. “We went with band and baja to welcome him.”
Sanjay earns a living as a farmer. “He is still trying to adjust to the life back at home. He remembers ours as a mudhouse, but since his disappearance we got it built with concrete.” Life is still shaky for Motilal, but he has support now to take him forward.