It was a heart-wrenching scene as a young woman rushed to embrace an old woman who was stumbling toward her in the lush greenery of a coffee estate. On Tuesday, Anjali, 31, and her mother Chaitra, both of Chikkamagaluru district, were AWOL from a planned reunion in Mudigere taluk. When Anjali, Chaitra, and Kalimuttu’s sixth child was separated from his or her parents 22 years ago, the story began. To work on a coffee farm in Mudigere, Karnataka, the couple relocated from Tamil Nadu. It is said that Keralan timber merchants used to come to Mudigere at the turn of the century, and Chaitra remembers them. Several of them arrived with elephants and mahouts to help with the distribution of the timber planks. In the estate where we worked, a mahout’s family lived nearby, and the children of both families would play together. One day, Anjali was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere in the house for her, but I couldn’t find her. A family member of the mahout’s assumed she had gone to live with them.” As Chaitra pointed out, there was no way we could locate her. “She didn’t call the police because she couldn’t afford to. Before marrying Nellamani Saji, a small-time artist, Anjali traveled to Kerala with the mahout’s family and worked as a maid for several years. He contacted Mudigere locals after she told him about her family when they married. Friends in Kozhikode helped me get in touch with a social worker in Mudigere, Monu. Ms. Chaitra was found a few days ago thanks to the help of his Mudigere estate owner friends. Before she could answer any of his questions about her daughter, he made his way over to her.
3 days ago