Rameela Devi, a 35-year-old woman was reunited with her family on Friday after almost two years, and the story of the reunion seems straight out of a movie.
She was reunited with her family thanks to the efforts of the staff at the Mental Health Centre in Oolampara. The mother of six children, Rameela is a native of Bichhiwara village, Rajasthan. She was suffering from a mental illness and had accidentally boarded a train to Kerala with her then one-and-a-half-year-old son, Ravi, in January 2016. They have been in Thiruvananthapuram since.
Rameela, her husband and son with Dr Dinesh and other staff of the Mental Health Centre
KK Baiju, a policeman, happened to see Rameela wandering at Valiathura with a child, and took them to the Mental Health Centre, Oolampara.
Ravi was then shifted to the orphanage run by the state-run Child Welfare Committee in Thycaud.
The mother and child were recently reunited with their family after Ranchod Lal Kharadi, Rameelaâ€™s husband, was called to Thiruvananthapuram.
The reunion is the result of a year-long effort by the doctors and staff of the Mental Health Centre.
Speaking to TNM, Dr RS Dinesh, the psychiatrist who treated Rameela, said, â€śRameela has been housed at the Centre for all these months. She could recollect her memories of home only after many months of being here. She had been given occupational therapy and other treatment methods at the rehabilitation home of the Centre.â€ť
The staff at the Centre tried to piece together information to reunite Rameela with her family a few months after she reached the Centre with the few details that she had provided. They tried to contact her family through the Bichhiwara Police, but the police couldnâ€™t trace the family. Meanwhile, a DNA test was conducted at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, to confirm that Ravi was Rameelaâ€™s son.
Ravi, who was spending months with the Keralite babysitters at the CWC orphanage, had forgotten his mother tongue.
â€śAfter a few months, it was hard for Ravi to recognize his mother as the treatment had led to some changes in Rameela. She had put on weight. We then arranged frequent meetings of Ramleela with Ravi so that he would not forget her. After eight months of treatment, Rameela got back her memory. Recently, we again contacted the Bichhiwara Police Station. This time, Rameela herself spoke to the police. This made things easy as the police got more clear details from her. This time, the search for finding her family was successful,â€ť Dr Dinesh said.
The Centreâ€™s authorities also sought the help of the State Social Security Mission, which coordinated efforts to reunite Rameela with her family.
â€śIf we hadnâ€™t done the follow-up, it could have ended up like scores of other cases where people never reunite with their family. We were also constantly in touch with the CWC to ensure that Ravi was not adopted by anyone since we were hopeful that Rameelaâ€™s treatment would be successful,â€ť Dr Dinesh added.
The Bichhiwara police finally traced Ranchod Lal. He hadnâ€™t filed any complaint after his wife had gone missing as rumours had been spread in his village he had killed his wife.
Rameela, Ravi and Ranchod were given a warm farewell jointly by the Health and the Social Justice Departments, during which the staff from the Centre and CWC were also present. Two people from the Centre also accompanied them back to their village, and the travel expenses were borne by the state government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was also present at the farewell.
â€śI have witnessed the happiness of Rajasthan native Ranchod Lal Kharadi who got back his family. Itâ€™s proud moment for Kerala,â€ť the CM said in a Facebook post. â€śWe will contact the Rajasthan government to ensure the safety of the family,â€ť the post added.