It was a drama that had all ingredients of a Hindi tearjerker with a happy ending when a turbaned Gurubaj Singh knocked the door of the Maharashtrian Domale family here which was ecstatic to see the "guest". It was the return of the prodigal son - Ankush - who had left home in a fit of anger 11 years ago, finding his way back to the city this week thanks to Facebook.
Santosh, the younger brother of Ankush - who adopted Sikh religion during his travails away from home - received a message on his FB profile on July 21 night when he was about to go to bed which startled him. It said, "I am your brother. call me". When he called on the messaged number, it was his brother Ankush who had run away from home at the age of 13, trying to communicate in Hindi.
Santosh was baffled by the picture of Ankush on FB as it showed a turbaned bearded Sikh. But the mother - Hemlata - recognised the face that had a cut mark on the cheek and the eyebrow. The sequence of events, as narrated by Ankush himself and the family members, unfolded happenings that matched Hindi films.
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 a bike of my uncle and dashed it with another vehicle, damaging it. I was beaten up and scolded by the uncle and mother for the misadventure. Mother threw Rs 50 at me and asked me to get lost," he recalled.
As the distraught teenager began his uncharted journey, he was picked up by a kind-hearted 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. (more
The young boy then undertook "seva" at the Gurudwara "langar" (kitchen) and picked up his new work within six months after which he happened to meet one Major Singh who was attached to a Gurudwara in Ludhiana. Taking a liking for his sincere work, the "Baba" (Singh) took him to Ludhiana.
"I then became a Sikh, changing my name to Gurubaj Singh," said Ankush. He then learnt driving and started transporting wheat donated by people to the Gurudwara. But a recent fight with a fellow worker made him home sick and he was reminded of his childhood and the younger brother Santosh, whose name he searched on FB and found it.
The message sent by him got prompt response from the family. "When I told the whole thing to Baba, 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. His mother, still coming to terms with her new found joy, says he was free to lead his own life and there will not be any "scolding" for anything.