Suresh is a general odd-job man. He runs a video business. He also runs a food business. And more.
Sometime around 8 pm tonight, Suresh walked in to my home, bringing this young mentally challenged boy. Looked to be around 10 or 12 years of age. This boy was apparently roaming around, lost, near a photo shop. Suresh has had some experience filming children in special schools, and so could empathize. He tried speaking to the boy, but couldn’t get a proper response. He waited for an hour on the road, but no one came looking for the boy. Then he brought the boy to my home, for my better half runs a special school, and may be able to help. He dropped the boy here and went away.
Now, this boy could speak only four words – Amma, Appa, Anna, Aaya. Nothing else. He was at peace. He didn’t seem perturbed at all. Any question put to him brought only one or more of these four words in response.
I spoke to him in Tamil, asking his name. Suddenly he said something that sounded like Asmir. I asked him “Asmir?”…He said “Anna”…It went on like this, and I thought he said “Asif”…I asked “Asif?”…He said “Amma”….
“Which school?” Ambika asked. She named one special school after another, all to no avail. “Amma, Anna, Appa, Aaya” was all he said. He did respond to one school name. But soon ignored it.
This being Deepavali eve, we had some sweets at home. We gave his some Adirasam. He just ate it up in no time. I asked him if he wanted more. He nodded. And had more.
Now, this boy had no identification. All he had was two labels from a dress-brand, and a bunch of bit-papers (say 40, 50 of them), all with “Sri Rama Jayam” written in Tamizh. That’s all he had.
The boy sat in front of me. Silence. Above, in the wall behind him, was a picture of Ramana Maharshi. I looked at Him. He smiled from the picture.
Meanwhile, Ambika, my better half, was busy. She called Rekha, who runs another special school, Matru Mandir, to figure out if she might be able to help identify this child. Rekha is a real metal person, and she soon sent her driver and her nephew. Idea was to photograph the boy, and then have it given to TV Channels, and to register the details with the local police.
Some arrangement was also being made for housing the boy for the night in a special home.
Just as we were about to leave, Suresh landed up again, bringing a man and another boy. They were family! They were absolutely overjoyed to see the boy! Suresh had gone and waited at the local cop station, and sure enough these folks had landed up there, all in a huff. And he brought them here.
It was sheer drama. They were all emotion. They fell at Suresh’s feet. He jumped.
I asked them the boy’s name. They said “Ramesh!”…Nothing that I thought of!
“Which school does he go to?” asked Ambika.
Turned out that they weren’t sending him to any school. The person who came was Ramesh’s fathers elder brother, Shankar. And the youngster was Ramesh’s elder brother, Ganesh. Ramesh’s father it seems is a painter. Well, we gave them details of Rasa, the special school run by Ambika, quite near Ramesh’s home. Shankar was overjoyed. I noted down their details…
What an evening…
All wasn’t so well that ended so well!