Eleven years after he left his home after being scolded by his mother, 24-year-old Ankush, or Gurubaj Singh as he is called now, found his way back home this week thanks to the social media.
The Maharashtrian Domale family welcomed their son who had converted to Sikhism and now lived in Ludhiana. he had left home as a 13-year-old.
Ankush sent a message to his younger brother Santosh through Facebook on July 21, which said, "I am your brother. Call me".
When Santosh called, it was his brother Ankush who had run away from home 11 years ago, trying to communicate in Hindi.
Santosh was baffled by the picture of Ankush on Facebook as it showed a turbaned and bearded Sikh. But their mother Hemlata recognised Ankush’s face that had a cut mark on the cheek and the eyebrow.
The 24-year-old, who was reunited with the family when he arrived here on July 28 in his new avatar as Gurubaj Singh from Ludhiana by the Jhelam Express, recounted his state of mind when he left home at a tender age.
"I tried to ride my uncle’s bike and had an accident. I was beaten up and scolded by the uncle and mother for damaging the bike. Mother threw Rs. 50 at me and asked me to get lost," he recalled.
As the distraught teenager left home, he was picked up by a kindhearted Sikh who was driving his truck from Mumbai to Nanded and offered to take him to Punjab.
When Ankush declined to go to Punjab, the driver dropped him at a Gurudwara in Nanded, a holy town for Sikhs located in the Marathwada region.
The young boy then did ‘seva’ at the Gurudwara for six months after which he happened to meet one Major Singh who was attached to a Gurudwara in Ludhiana. After he saw how sincerely the boy worked at the temple, Singh took him to Ludhiana.
"I then became a Sikh and changed my name to Gurubaj Singh," said Ankush. He then learnt driving and started transporting wheat donated by people to the Gurudwara.
However, he missed his home and started searching for his family online. The message sent by him got prompt response from the family.
"When I told the whole thing to Major Singh, he booked my ticket on Jhelum Express and I arrived in Pune," he said. Gurubaj says he will settle down in Pune but has no plans to convert back to his religion.