Ashok Yadav (15) came to Mumbai on April 7 to find a job in Mumbai. Instead, he found his long-lost brother Raja, whose battle with sickle cell anaemia had been featured in mid-day on the very same day!
A report carried by mid-day has reunited two brothers separated four years ago, when one of them travelled out of their native Jharkhand to make a living in the city of Mumbai.
Raja (right) now hopes to get a job to help support his brother. Both brothers want to complete their education
When Ashok Yadav (15), an orphan from Jharkhand, set foot onto the noisy streets of the city on April 7, he braced himself to face this new, overwhelming world alone, having no idea that a newspaper would lead him, on that very day, to his elder brother Raja, who had never returned home after leaving for Mumbai in 2010.
This picture of Raja was published in a mid-day report on April 7, which happens to be the same day that his 15-year-old brother Ashok arrived in the city
Having received no word from Raja since his departure for Mumbai, Ashok had given up on ever hearing from him again. What he didn’t know was that his brother had been battling a debilitating blood disorder for years, in the civic-run Sion Hospital. The serendipitous discovery was made by Jethlal Rana, Ashok’s neighbour, who had travelled with him to Mumbai.
Picking up a copy of mid-day on the very day that they arrived in the city, Rana was shocked to read the story on Raja, which said that he had been crippled by sickle cell anaemia, and had successfully battled the disease with the help and support of a social worker associated with Sion hospital and its staff (‘Sion hospital becomes home for orphan with blood disorder’, April 7).
“I instantly recognised my brother Raja from his photo printed in the newspaper. All I felt was relief and happiness to find that though I hadn’t heard from my brother in the last four years, he was alive,” Ashok said. Wasting no time, the duo rushed to the hospital, eager to meet Raja. Reaching the hospital at 2.30 pm on April 7, Ashok and Raja hugged each other long and hard, spreading joy through the crowded male orthopaedic ward.
“My brother is the only surviving member of my family. Seeing him after so long made me weep tears of joy. Both of us were crying as we embraced each other. There was so much to say, but for a while we just sat by each other in silence on my hospital bed,” said Raja.
After coming to the city in 2010, Raja had been working in a hotel in Ghatkopar, but had to be admitted to hospital when he started finding it difficult to stand or even sit properly, owing to his damaged hipbones. Sickle cell disease attacks the bone joints of patients. The red blood cells assume an abnormal ‘sickle’ shape, cutting the blood supply to hipbones in the process.
Raja underwent a total hip replacement surgery in December last year, after Bharti Sangoi, a social worker, raised R 2.5 lakh for him along with the hospital’s Medical Social Workers (MSW) department. “Our father died even before I was born, and our mother succumbed to a prolonged illness six years ago. Our aunt started raising us, but unfortunately, she too died three years ago.
Then my brother disappeared. With no loved ones in my village, I decided to move to Mumbai,” said Ashok, adding, “The worst part was not knowing what had happened to my brother, and accepting he was no more. We had no last rites or ceremonies. I grieved his absence all by myself,” added an emotional Ashok.
Ray of hope
Raja now hopes to get a job to help support his brother. Both brothers want to complete their education. “Both of us have studied only till Std III. We hope to return to school some day, and afford to make ends meet in this city, together,” he said.
Ashok is now living with a neighbour from Jharkhand in Matunga, while Raja is looking forward to a discharge from the hospital. Bharti is now planning on shifting the orphans to a sanstha, where they can stay until further arrangements are made for their well-being.