Thrissur: When the 17-year-old boy ended up getting down from a train that had taken him to lands far from his native place, all that the teenager could do was to make weird sounds in extreme panic. At this, Childline India functionaries in Kochi took the boy to Thrissur: to the Government Medical College, 10 km north of the city, to be precise.
Their efforts to normalise the mentally disturbed patient proved fruitful, following which he was shifted to the Children’s Home. A good eleven months were spent there, during which fellow inmates stumbled upon his name on questioning. Bilal, he would say. Nothing more. No details about his parents, family, town or village.
Simultaneously, officials with the NGO began moving papers to shift Bilal to another home meant for ‘adults’.
At the Children’s Home, caretaker Prajith P used to get into conversations of sorts with Bilal. That is how the word ‘Okhla Mandi’ spilled from Bilal’s mouth last month when Prajith asked the boy about his native place. A search on Google led the caretaker to learn that it is a market in Delhi.
Soon the Home contacted the police in the national capital. No official in khaki could confirm about a missing boy under their jurisdiction. The probe then spread to finding a trader in the marketplace. A breakthrough on that happened through Facebook. Further information came that one of the businessmen in Okhla Mandi had indeed lost his son a year ago.
The Children’s Home thus came into touch with the person: Mohammed Rais. On being asked over WhatsApp to appear over a video call, the middle-aged person came on line the next day as suggested.
When the father and son saw each other on the phone screen 3,000 km away, they burst into loud wails. The man beckoned his screen; the son showed eagerness to be with him. The emotional reunion was poignant for the onlookers at the Home.
Rais, with his brother, took the next day’s flight to land at Kochi airport. From Nedumbassery, they reached the Home in Thrissur, 50 km north. The father-son reunion turned many eyes around misty.
It was only then the officials at the Home knew that Bilal was from a millionaire’s family. And that Bilal was the only son of Rais and his wife, who had otherwise eight daughters.
An overwhelmed Rais, while leaving to his city, said he would pay a visit with his family to the Home, where Bilal spent a critical year that ended dramatically.