Dubai: It was a day of immense joy for the family and friends of a man in Dubai who had lost his memory — for the readers of Gulf News helped him rediscover his identity.
The family of Lakshman, who has been staying at Rashid Hospital since he sustained a head injury last November, was able to speak to him from India thanks to the efforts of Gulf News readers. A picture of his family — which Gulf News obtained and showed him on Thursday — brought tears to his eyes and the hope of a new life.
He grabbed the photograph, looked eagerly and went blank. "…They thought I was dead … My daughter asked me how I was feeling. I said I am fine … and that I will come home soon," said Neralla Lachaiah, known until Wednesday as Lakshman at the Rashid Hospital, where he has been stranded for months, until a Gulf News report helped officials establish his identity.
Speaking in Hindi, with excitement filled in his voice, Lachaiah said he is now hopeful of finally getting back home to be with his family, his four children and wife.
Shown a picture of his family, obtained by Gulf News on Thursday, he snatched it, shied away and hid behind a pillar to keep others from seeing his emotions. He believed he had two sets of twins who were aged 8 and 6.
On a different occasion, he thought his children were aged between 11 to 7 years. But the picture revealed a much different reality. His children were much older.
Recollecting little about himself, following a severe head injury last year, Lachaiah has been at the hospital since November, as Gulf News reported last week. He said his name was Lakshman and that he was from Karimnagar, a district in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
As fate would have it, a Tamilian cab driver, chanced upon Gulf News' page one with Lachaiah's picture, in a grocery in Satwa.
"I can't read English. But I got someone to translate it," said the driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"I knew Lachaiah. He was jobless and illegally residing here. I used to feel sorry for him sometimes gave him Dh5 or Dh10."
"Once he asked me to call his wife for him from my mobile and this way I had their contacts."
One day he heard from a roommate about Lachaiah's accident and that he was taken by the police ambulance. "I figured he must have been deported."
Lachaiah's family also reached out to the driver but he told them he had no clue of his whereabouts.
The driver then approached the hospital and informed them as well as volunteers of the Valley of Love, who were taking care of Lachaiah, his real name and contacted the family.
"The driver is my very good friend and likes me very much. He used to take me for rides sometimes," Lachaiah remembered.
Simultaneously, separate efforts by another team of readers — Srikant, Ramesh Reddy and social worker Umarani Padmanabhan — tasted success giving the hospital further information that he worked with Wade Adams, and that he had been missing since 2006 after the company let him go.
He spoke fondly of his children, and of how his daughter got married while he was still here, unable to go, but he was hesitant to speak about his wife, almost confessing they had a troubled relationship.
Separately, readers of Gulf News's sister publication XPRESS also helped identify a 60-year-old Bangladeshi man, Mohammad Zaki Ferdous. XPRESS reported he was staying at the same hospital. Readers identified him as a diabetic who worked with a leading bank. Click here to read more about how readers provided clues to his identity.