More than 20 years ago, Maria had reached Kattappana in Idukki, looking lost and upset. Autorickshaw drivers who saw the girl standing clueless at the bus stop all day took her to the police station. She’s a deaf person with speech disability and couldn’t tell them the name of the place from where she came. She also didn’t know the language. But she wrote down her name as Amina, and conveyed that she has five siblings.
She had on her hands a number tattooed – 786. It is a religious symbol. In Islam, it means ‘By the Name of God ( ALLAH ) the Compassionate the Merciful’.
The police took her to an ashram. All their searches for her family and place of origin led nowhere and she remained in Kerala, adapting, learning, and finding love.
Rodymon saw her at the ashram when he went to do some volunteering there. Five years later, in 2003, they got married. He called her Maria. “We moved to Edathua in Alappuzha so I would have more job opportunities,” says Rodymon, who works as a carpenter.
The couple have six children now – five boys and a girl.
Maria, Rodymon and their children
Maria and Rodymon were both reminded about her past when they heard the story of Geeta, a deaf person with speech disability who returned to India from Pakistan, after being lost there several years ago.
Read: Geeta to return to India on Monday, Pakistan NGO fears PR overdrive
“It’s around the same time that Maria was lost. Many parents had come in search of Geeta, saying they had lost their girl so many years ago. I wondered then if one of those parents could be Maria’s. It’s the same description – the number of years, and the fact that she too is a deaf person with speech disability,” Rodymon says.
He tried contacting a newspaper office to get the address of those parents who went in search of Geeta, but in vain. “That’s when we saw the song. Before that, she had spoken about a Hindi movie shooting happening near her home and meeting Aamir Khan. But she couldn’t tell where that was or which movie it was. Watching the song, however, Maria remembered everything.”
Rodymon immediately got in touch with the director of the film, Mansoor Khan, to know the location of the song. “I met him in Ooty last week. He said the location was Fantasy Land Amusement Park in Mumbai. But Maria’s home is an hour or more away from that park. She says there is an Indian flag on a heart-shaped base in her colony. There are rows of houses and stone-laid roads between them, through which autorickshaws and bikes pass. There is also a railway track near it. We are now trying to locate the colony based on these landmarks. But we’ll need help. I don’t know any language other than Malayalam.”
An image Maria drew of her colony, from her memory
He also contacted advocate Momin Malik in Paniput, who was involved in Geeta’s case. “He said he will look into it. I am also planning to meet the Kerala Culture Minister and ask for help,” says Rodymon.