Strangers and Acquaintances
Strangers and Acquaintances8 mins 219 8 mins 219
Just outside their village one fine morning there was lot of chaos. Many people had gathered there curiously following the happenings unfold slowly. Dipak, a local newspaper reporter had already reached there and was eagerly trying to gather information for his news article for the next morning. Dipak being a reporter had access to the event without having to shrug off the crowd. On reaching the centre of the chaos, Dipak came across a man probably in his late thirties who had been surrounded by curious onlookers. The man seemed to be groggy and what he was saying seemed incoherent. No one could tell from where he had come. Because it was certain that he did not belong to the village. This village Shibrampur was not a very large congregation of people and almost everyone knew one another.
On questioning, the man looked blank and had no answers. He even couldn't recollect his name. But when someone called his acquaintance by the name of Madho, this stranger turned his head and his eyes shone in approval.
So the congregation acknowledged that his name must have a link with Madho or Madhav. This man Madho was however not physically injured it seemed or at least there was no external injury marks on his body, that's what Dipak noted in his scrap book. The Police patrol doing the rounds gave the information to their back office and soon a posse of Policemen came with their vehicle. As there was no cable TV and Internet those days so only traditional reporters like Dipak and a handful of cameramen were doing the round. Many from the crowd started discussing animatedly and diagnosed the cause of incoherent behaviour of Madho due to his mental state which was not functioning properly or though, it seemed. In such situations countless people become conspicuous degree doctors without the degree. Giving opinions free of cost flows like many rivulets flowing down mountainside in the monsoon. Nothing gives more importance to an onlooker than a sound piece of advise which may find support from the crowd.
The Police took away Madho to the hospital first for a full scale check up. From the check up it was found that his vital body parts were functioning correctly. Only his speech was a little groggy and he spoke with a slur. Then Police criminal records were checked. As the period was before the Internet and seeking information took it's time , the scrutiny of Police records was left to it's own speed of delivery . Till the time his innocence could be proved, Madho was kept in a cell.
Time went by and as no one filed any complaints nor was there any recordings of missing file diaries, the importance of Madho slipped into the background of popular memory.
Six months passed and there was no claim regarding Madho and the Police files also failed to come up with any case linking to Madho, then it was decided to let Madho be free. Luckily a social organisation volunteered to look after Madho. So by the order of the court 'The Lost and Found' organisation was given the custody of Madho.
The Lost and Found administrators took Madho to their home. They took very good care of him as if he was their own. This organisation was run by donations so it was not difficult to manage the cost of affairs of Madho. Being a simple man who had lost his memory so managing his day to day needs was not a costly affair. Because Madho had no choices of his own and if he had any preferences he had forgotten about the same. Madho developed into a very affable person and got along very well with the other inmates. Slowly he became a member of their own team. The stranger tag was no longer applicable to Madho. The home took very good care of him and was treated very kindly. The love which Madho got from the others slowly began to heal his hidden mental wounds it seemed.
Madho now started opening up little by little. He began talking about his earlier life. He talked about love and of marriage and family. Seeing a little girl one day he started crying probably reminiscing his own darling daughter.
Many years passed in between. Lot of developments had taken place in the outside world. Internet had been developed and with it gave birth to the social media and round the clock news service.
Madho had not changed much. He developed into a very loving and affable person. He learnt many works of trade at the home. Madho learnt drawing and painting also and specialised in color pastel drawing on canvas. The organisation sent Madho's work of art for exhibitions and Madho started getting recognition.
Then a solo exhibition of Madho was a smashing hit. Many corporate houses became his admirers. His work of art was now being sold regularly. The organisation's coffers started being filled with the price collected from Madho's paintings.
Then the board members of the organisation 'Lost and Found' started to collect the money from the sale proceeds in a Bank account designated in the name of Madho. The account was just used as a deposit fund in the name of Madho as his memory was still not fully restored so under the court mandate whatever earnings done by him was deposited in his account. The use of the funds was restricted and in the future whatever decision the court would take considering Madho's mental health, the permission for the judicious use of Funds would be granted.
Lot of curiosity had been generating about Madho recently due to his popularity as a budding painter of value. So through the press his name and his past was being churned.
His custodian organisation had got in touch with a ham radio organisation who now exploiting the technology of social media had successfully united many such forlorn and lost persons with their original families.
Very soon a link was seeming to be established though it was quite weak in the beginning.
Few more months passed. Now it almost a decade and a half since Madho was initially found at the outskirts of the village Shibrampur. Madho was now almost on the verge of being a senior citizen and he was definitely a healthy man. Only at certain times when he became pensive then he became a recluse and had to be mandatorily left alone. Then the nurses at the home would coax him with sweet talk and urge him to start his painting and bring him back alert on the terra firma. But otherwise Madho seemed to be very happy with his surroundings and participated whole heartedly in all the festive occasions of the home. He also lent his helping hand to all other inmates. It never seemed that Madho was amongst strangers and the other inmates were as if his acquaintances of long time.
There was rapid development in the next few weeks. The ham radio clubbers had found a vital link to Madho's supposed origins. He had been married and was the father of a girl who had now grown up and married. This girl and her husband had uploaded many photographs of a person naming as her father then as a young handsome young man. His name was Madhab Chandra and he was a Chemist and a researcher. This Madhab was associated with an Australian University and during one lecture tour back home he had been lost. Since then Madhab's family had made all the possible efforts to trace him but unfortunately could not find success. Then slowly due to the pressure of changing times and demands of the situation the search and follow up had grown weak. Madhab or Madho was now truly identified with a DNA testing with his daughter's and finding it positive, there was a rare celebration at 'Lost and Found' home.
But the one who should have been elated was just not excited about the developments and that was Madhab. He had learnt from his inmates that his erstwhile family had been detected and that his daughter who had grown up now would come to fetch him soon.
Madhab had got so much of love, affection and care at the home that he was very happy here and didn't want to leave. He was told of proof of his parentage to his daughter and how she had been searching for him all these years after growing up herself.
But Madhav didn't feel any attachment for his daughter, only idle curiosity.
Madhab had also learnt from sources that his art collecting account had now grown into a fortune and probably due to this reason his daughter had come to fetch him.
Later Madhab's daughter Ria and her husband Amal had to seek out mandate from the court to take the custodian ship of her father to get all the inheritance rights etc. When Ria heard of the little fortune awaited her she showed little interest in its acquisition and by legal action declared that the funds will be enjoyed by her father till long as he lived and after his passing the full amount would be transferred to the accounts of 'Lost and Found' without whose untiring effort and love her father would never have been traced.
The 'Lost and Found' organisation were total strangers to Madhab but with their love and passion had become most beloved acquaintances and now it was the test for Ria to change herself from a stranger to her father to a beloved acquaintance for him. Strange are the ways of the world and its beings.