From Kerala to Kolkata: How a Durga Puja Club Reunited Youth Missing Since 2012 with His Family
Mudiali Puja club members left no stones unturned to look for anybody who was related to the lost youth. They carried a photograph of him which was sent by the NGO in Kerala and looked for him in Chetla and Mudiali area.
Image for representation only. (Photo: PTI)
A popular Durga Puja organiser in Mudiali, Kolkata has a heartwarming tale attached to their 85 years of history. The Durga puja committee helped a family get back its son — dementia and mental illness patient —after a period of seven years.
On the evening of August 10, when Mudiali joint secretary was driving to the club from work, he received a call from an unknown number, The Times of India reported. The call was from a man working for an NGO, who said they had chanced upon a 24-year-old at a government shelter in Kerala. The 24-year-old had no recollection of his family or home address. He just remembered his name, Kalu Khaudia, and one other thing: “Mudiali Durga puja club”.
The Mudiali club members activated all their contacts in the next four hours, and even visited nearby slums to look for anybody who was related to the lost youth. They carried a photograph of him which was sent by the NGO and searched in Chetla and Mudiali area.
Finally, in the early hours of August 11, they successfully managed to locate the youth’s father, Gopi A Khaudia. The committee members arranged for a train ticket for Gopi on the same day and escorted him to the Shalimar station from where he boarded the Shalimar-Thiruvananthapuram Superfast Express for the 46-hour-long journey, enabling him to meet his son for the first time since October 2012.
“I still can’t believe I will be able to see my son again. I had thought he must be dead by now and had given up all hope of getting him back. But I am just glad that I can see him again. He is the only one in the family I have now,” said Gopi, whose wife died 10 years ago, and whose elder son had deserted the family several years previously.
“We had very sketchy details about the missing boy but we are happy to have been able to find out his family. We paid for his tickets and gave him some money for the road,” the report quoted Manoj Shaw and Ashok Dey, the two joint secretaries of the Puja committee, as saying.
Recalling the night when his son went missing, Gopi said that one fine day in October 2012 he had gone out to buy medicines for his son Kalu, who was 17 then and had just recovered from a fit of epileptic seizure. “I came back home and found he was not there. I looked around and asked some neighbours, who said he had gone towards the Mudiali puja pandal. I ran there but couldn’t find him. Since then, I have been to the cops and have searched for him at a number of places, but to no avail,” he said.
“On August 10, he spoke for the first time and said he could recall his name, and that his home was in Kalighat. We first tried to call officers of Tollygunge police station, but they were not of much help. Then, I tried to call some local shops in Kalighat, whose numbers were available online, but that ploy didn’t work either. But when the boy mentioned the Mudiali club, we found their number online and connected to them. They were extremely receptive,” the report quoted an official of the NGO in Kerala.
The NGO handed over Kalu to his father on August 15 in the presence of a magistrate.
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