As you go from Chennai to Pondicherry along the East Coast Road, you will pass by the beautiful backwaters area of Mutukkadu It was in this place, that Mukta was found sitting by herself in a bus stop in 2009.
Others at the bus stop kept their distance from her and it was understandable. She was covered in grime from head to toe and looked like she had not bathed in months. She looked completely lost and was muttering random words in Bengali. When someone informed the volunteers of non-profit The Banyan, they approached her but they did not know her name or where she was from. On enquiring, she continued to mumble and was unable to recollect how she reached this place far away from Bengal.
The volunteers gently persuaded her to accompany them to the care centre for rescued women run by The Banyan. At the centre, their first task was to convince her to take bath and clean her of possible infectious wounds so they could start her counselling and care.
Years passed and Mukta settled into her life at The Banyan. She would not talk much and mostly kept to herself. When she spoke, her voice was soft. Every now and then she would tear up talking about being in a place far from home, about being away from her family.
Mukta had good days where she could recall details about her life and bad ones where she remembered nothing. During one such good day, eight long years after she was brought in, she was able to remember the name of her village, Hemkumari.
This was the lead that her counsellors at The Banyan were waiting for. They immediately reached out to the State Crime Records Bureau and located the village as a part of Cooch Behar district in West Bengal. The Police located the complaint that was lodged when she went missing. Now it was just a matter of contacting Mukta’s family to reunite them!
On the day of Diwali, Mukta ’s husband, Akbar Ali Sarkar, came down in the hope of meeting his wife. Akbar saw her and could not believe his eyes! It was the her, it was Mukta in flesh and blood. Akbar who had given up hope a long time back, could not withhold the tears that flowed over.
After a tearful reunion between the husband and wife, the couple celebrated Diwali with the volunteers at The Banyan.
Mukta was finally going home after nearly a decade.
“A quarter of a decade ago, a handful of people who believed in the cause of mental health started the Banyan. Their hopes were not shadowed by their light pockets,” says Sanchita Dasgupta, GiveIndia’s Relationship Manager for The Banyan. “Even today their core philosophy revolves around taking care of the mentally ill who have no means of fending for themselves. Our visits there leave us with immense respect for the work that they do in their field and reinforces our belief in the work we do.”
You can help people like Mukta find their way back to their loved ones by donating to The Banyan’s program on GiveIndia. To make a small monthly donation of Rs. 600 to help The Banyan continue their good work-