A Long Way Home

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The  3 minute Video below is that of Saroo Brierley, an Indian born Australian who was separated from his birth mother and found her again after a separation of 25 years. It is a moving true story that also illustrates the incredible power of the mind to connect together experiences from one’s distant memory. I would encourage you to take 3 minutes out of your day to stop and watch it:

Further background information on this amazing story comes from Wikipedia:

Saroo was born in a city called Khandwa in central India. When he was young, his father left his mother, throwing the family into poverty.

His mother worked in construction to support herself and her children but often did not make enough money to feed them all. At age 5, Saroo and his older brothers Guddu and Kallu began begging at the railway station for food and money. Guddu sometimes obtained work sweeping the floors of train carriages.

One evening, Guddu said he was going to ride the train from Khandwa to Burhanpur, 70 km to the south. Saroo asked his older brother if he could come too. Guddu agreed. By the time the train reached Burhanpur, Saroo was so tired he collapsed onto a seat on the platform. Guddu told his little brother to wait and promised to be back shortly.

Guddu did not return and Saroo eventually became impatient. He noticed a train parked in the station and, thinking his brother was on it, boarded an empty carriage. He found there were no doors to the adjoining carriages. Hoping his brother would come for him, he fell asleep. When he awoke, the train was traveling across unfamiliar country. Many hours passed and the journey continued. Occasionally the train stopped at small stations but Saroo was unable to open the door to escape. The journey eventually ended at the huge Howrah railway station in Kolkata when someone opened the door to Saroo’s prison and he fled. Saroo did not know it at the time but he was nearly 1500 km from his hometown.

Saroo attempted to return home by boarding different trains, but they proved to be suburban trains and each one eventually took him back to Howrah railway station. For a week or two he lived on and around Howrah railway station. He survived by scavenging scraps of food in the street, and sleeping underneath the station’s seats. Eventually, he ventured out into the city streets.

He was found by a railway worker who took him in and gave him food and shelter, but Saroo fled when the railway worker showed Saroo to a friend and Saroo sensed that something was not right. The two men chased after him, but he managed to escape.
Saroo eventually met a teenager who took him to the local police and reported that he may be a lost child. The police took Saroo to a government centre for abandoned children. Weeks later, he was moved to the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption. The staff there attempted to locate his family, but Saroo did not know enough for them to sufficiently trace his hometown, and he was officially declared a lost child. He was subsequently adopted by the Brierley family of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

In the meantime, his mother, Kamla Munshi, searched for her two sons. A few weeks after her sons failed to return home, police informed her that Guddu’s body had been found near the railway tracks, a kilometre from Burhanpur station. He had been struck by a train.  She then confined her energy to looking for Saroo, traveling to different places on trains. She visited a temple every week to offer incense and rose petals in prayer for his return.

It is then several years later that Saroo using his memory and recollection with the aid of technology manages to track down and find his birth mother! It is such an amazing story that you would have found it harder to believe if it was written as fiction!

For me it illustrates the strong internal desire within all of us to connect with our roots and find our true home (see Third Culture Kids and the Search for Home part 1 and part 2).

There is also the issue of the amazing power of the subconscious mind (see Wonder-Filled Bold Humility part 2)

It also provides closure to the many questions about his past that would have been in Saroo’s mind as he grew up and tried to make sense of who he was and where he came from. I can certainly identify with Saroo to a point, but his experience is on a completely different level to mine! (A 15 minute video on that is here).

For another video on connecting with one’s past that is fictional, but very touching see this advert by Google that was the subject of our previous post.

What thoughts and questions does Saroo’s experience raise in your mind?

It would be great to have your thoughts and reflections below.

 

 

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