On June 17, when Sreedharan, a non-resident Indian from Kalikavu, Malappuram, wrote a post that his ‘Umma’ (Malayalam term for Muslim mother) has answered the call of god, there were a lot of questions on his Facebook page. Did he mean Amma, the Malayalam term for Hindu mother, asked some. Is his real name Sreedharan, asked others, seeing his photo with the traditional cap worn by Muslim men.
When there came more comments that began to mock and troll him, Sreedharan wrote another post on Facebook, explaining. “This post is to answer the doubts on who I am. I come from Kalikavu, near Nilambur in Malappuram. Now in Oman,” he begins. “My mother passed away when I was a year old. I have two sisters too. The day my mother died, that Umma and Uppa (her husband, Malayalam term for Muslim father), took us to their home. They raised us as their own kids, educating us. They got my sisters married when they grew up. It is not because they didn’t have their own kids. They too had three kids. They never tried to change our religion. She was not a step mother to us, but a mother.”
The post, visible only to his friends on Facebook, became viral with newspapers like Manorama and The Hindu picking it up. Manorama further reports that Chakki, Sreedharan’s birth mother, was one of the domestic helps at Thennadan house, where his foster parents – Subaida and Abdul Aziz – lived. When Chakki died and the children were clueless, Subaida took home baby Sreedharan and his sisters 11-year-old Ramani and six-year-old Leela. Subaida’s biological children – Shanavas, Jaffer and Joshina – went to the madrassa while Sreedharan and his sisters went to the temple. In the evenings, one set of children read the Quran while the others read the Bhagavad Gita.
It is after Sreedharan left for Oman that Subaida became ill, with a kidney disease. Shanavas, who too had been in a Gulf country, returned home to look after her and she told him not to let Sreedharan know, or he too would leave his job. He came to know only when her condition worsened and by the time his leave got sanctioned, Subaida had passed away.