It was a teary reunion of a father and a daughter on Monday afternoon in Chamrajpet area of Bengaluru.
Jyothi Svahn from Sweden met her biological father Dasaratha Rao who lives and works as a corporation worker in the city, after 23 long years.
As the father and daughter hugged, a moment of catharsis, that was much needed by both, unfolded.
Twenty-seven-year old Jyothi, a writer and social worker, and her younger sister Gayathri, a nurse, were separated from their family at a very young age.
According to Dasaratha, one day following a fight his wife Kamala Bai left the house with their two daughters, who were then around four and five years old respectively.
Their son Maruthi Rao, who was not in the house at the time and had perhaps gone out to play, was left behind.
After a while, Kamala sent the girls to St Mary's Convent in the city, and then to the NGO Ashraya, which faciliated their adoption.
Jyothi and Gayathri were adopted by a Swedish couple and both moved to Sweden. But Jyothi, who had faint memories of her mother, always had a yearning to get back to her roots.
Though her adoptive parents have been very supportive, she says, her life in Sweden has been made of both “good and difficult” times. “I had a hard time adjusting. I missed my family in India.”
So in 2013, during a trip to India, Jyothi contacted the orphanage that carried out her adoption process. The agency however wasn’t of much help.
Last year, she got in touch with Arun Dohle, who works for child rights organisation Against Child Trafficking (ACT), seeking his help.
Arun Dohle (front row, extreme left), Maruthi Rao (front, second from right)
Arun and Anjali Pawar, an advocate and President of NGO Sakhee, have worked on several similar cases of retracing biological parents of adopted children.
Both began work on locating Jyothi’s parents around two months ago. Anjali says the biggest obstacle they face is obtaining information from adoption agencies. "And sometimes the information we get from them can even be incorrect.”
She scoured a few areas, spoke to a lot of people, but most of the information in Jyothi's adoption file was not taking them anywhere.
A few words scribbled on a piece of extra paper in her file, they’d later realise, would prove to be a breakthrough.
On the paper, that was not part of the official document, were two words- "Tumkur" and "Maralakunte".
With inputs from a few locals, they were finally able to trace Dasaratha, and a meeting with Jyothi was arranged.
"It was fantastic. The inner peace that I had been longing for came to me," says Jyothi, who also met Maruthi and her half-sister Kavya.
Kamala Bai is yet to be tracked though.
“While I do not have a clear memory of my childhood in India, when I met my father today I could recall being in the village. I could recall my mother...," she adds.
Although Jyothi is returning to Sweden for now, she hopes to come back with Gayathri and meet their father once again.
"I want to get to know him,” she says resolutely.