Thanks to the internet, a 93-year-old Indian woman from Maharashtra, who had lost her way 40 years ago, has been reunited with her family. Trying to escape a bee attack, Panchubai had reached the state of Madhya Pradesh, where a family who took her in.
Twitter users in India are sharing the story of how she finally reached her grandson’s house in Nagpur last week, after India eased the COVID-19 lockdown.
Reportedly, sometime in 1979, a truck driver spotted her walking along a road in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district. Panchubai, then 53, said she had gotten lost trying to avoid a bee attack. “She had been stung by honeybees and could not speak coherently,” Israr Khan, the truck driver’s son, told PTI (Press Trust of India).
Khan’s father took the woman home, and she began to live with his family. “We called her Achchhan Mausi. She was mentally unstable and used to mutter in Marathi, which we could not understand, I sometimes asked her about her family, but she could not tell us anything,” Israr Khan said.
Khan first wrote about her on Facebook, but it did not lead to anywhere. He added: “She used to talk about a place called `Khanjma Nagar’. But, a Google search of the name yielded no result.”
This year, amid lockdown, on May 4, Khan asked the woman about her hometown again.
“She spoke about a place called Parsapur. We googled it and found that there is one Paraspur in Maharashtra,” Khan said.
On May 7, he contacted a man called Abhishek, who runs a shop in Paraspur, and told him about the woman. Abhishek told him that there is a village called Khanjma Nagar near the town.
Khan shared the woman’s video with Abhishekh, who then shared it on a WhatsApp group of the community.
“I received a phone call from Abhishek around midnight, saying the woman had been identified and her relatives traced,” Khan said.
A video of the old woman reached Prithvi Bhaiyalal Shingane, Panchubais grandson who lives in Nagpur. The Shingane family was eager to bring her home, but the lockdown was still in place.
Finally, on June 17, Shingane took his grandmother, Panchfulabai Tejpalsingh Shingane, home. Unfortunately, she could not meet her son, he had died in 2017.
Shingane narrated, how in 1979, his grandmother had left home in the evening, telling neighbours that she was going to her father’s place, and went missing that day,” he said.
“My father searched for her for years without success. He died in 2017. It would have been so much better if I had found her three years ago,” Shingane added.
Sharing a touching video of the family who adopted Panchubai, bidding farewell to her with tears, tweep @rkbnow posted: “This is OUR INDIA! A 93-year-old Panchubai is reunited with her Hindu family in Vidarbha after living with a Muslim family in MP. Not just her adopted Muslim family, but the village broke down in tears as they bid her farewell!”
Twitter page India Against Facism posted: “Panchubai's story is so heartwarming. The villagers weeping like their most beloved grandma was leaving them forever, is the most beautiful human emotion you can experience. Such stories make me believe in my country and it's beautiful people.”
“At the age of 94, my grandmother is still in good health thanks to the Khan family who looked after her for such a long time,” added Shingane.