Google, WhatsApp help reunite woman in her 90s with family after 43 years
Panchubai lived in Kota Tala village of Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district for over four decades. Only last month did Israr Khan, with whom she lived, came to know that she was from Maharashtra.
Panchubai lived as Achchhan for more than four decades with the Khan family until she was reunited with her grandson this week.
Israr Khan, with whom Panchubai lived all these years, and the residents of Kota Tala village in Damoh district came to know their Achchhan Mausi (aunt) was from Maharashtra just last month.
Prithvi Kumar Shinde took his grandmother, who is in her early 90s, home on Thursday to Nagpur in Maharashtra.
Khan could find her grandson with a little help from Google and WhatsApp.
No one knows how Panchubai covered the distance of about 500km from a village in Amravati district in Maharashtra to Damoh in the Bundelkhand region. She was spotted by Khan’s father, a truck driver, on a road after she was attacked by a swarm of bees.
“My father late Noor Khan saw her in pain while he was on his way home as many as 43 years back. He gave her some herbs for relief from the pain caused by stinging of bees,” Khan said.
His father saw her again on the roadside a few days later and asked her about her whereabouts but she couldn’t say anything. He then brought her home.
“Since then she became our Achchhan Mausi and that of the entire village, a name given by my father,” Khan, who works with a social organisation, said.
“She used to utter Marathi words most often. My father and later myself and my friends tried hard to find her village but our efforts always hit a roadblock as we couldn’t get any clue from her or perhaps we failed to understand what she said,” he added.
On May 4, during the lockdown, the Khan family was sitting together when she said something. Khan recorded what she said on his mobile phone and figured out that she mentioned Khanjam Nagar.
“Later, I found a Khanjam Nagar panchayat in Amravati district. Through the help of Google, I could get the mobile phone number of a kiosk owner Abhishek in Khanjam Nagar. I had a talk with him and sought his help to circulate the photo of Mausi through WhatsApp in his village and around,” Khan said.
“We jumped in joy when Abhishek told me that a family in the village identified Mausi as Panchubai and that she happened to be the grandmother of Prithvi Kumar Shinde who, however, resides in Nagpur with his family now,” he added.
Shinde then contacted Khan. He told them that Panchubai lost her husband Tejpal in 2005 and son Bhailal three years ago.
“My grandfather Tejpal and father Bhailal lost hopes of finding her having made frantic search several times. My grandfather had lodged a missing report too with the police station,” Shinde said.
“I am happy that I am taking my grandmother home but sad too that my grandfather and father both passed away without seeing her and that she spent 40 years without us,” he added.
Shinde said is thankful to the Khan family for taking care of his grandmother for 43 years.
“However, I will always remain indebted to late Noor Khan and his son Israr Khan as this family not only gave shelter to my grandmother but also took care of her as its own member. If I am able to see my grandmother it’s because of Noor Khan and Israr Khan,” he added.
Khan and his family couldn’t hold their tears when Panchubai left.
“Since my childhood, I have been seeing Achchhan Mausi as my guardian. I have a mixed feeling. I am happy that she has ultimately got her family back but I am sad that I am losing our guardian.”