Deaf-mute Kerala woman finds her Mumbai home

Updated: Dec 13, 2019, 07:02 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Following mid-day's report, Malayalee Welfare Association in Jogeshwari E helps Amina locate her home in Andheri W, but it does not exist any more

Amina next to the chabbil near her relative's house in Ansari Mohalla near Gilbert Hill, where she used to light a diya
Amina next to the chabbil near her relative's house in Ansari Mohalla near Gilbert Hill, where she used to light a diya

After 22 years of having zero clues of the whereabouts of her family and home, the efforts being put by deaf and mute Maria alias Amina and her husband, Rodymon Varghese, Kerala residents, into locating them, somewhat came to fruition.

mid-day had highlighted the couple's mission to locate 36-year-old Amina's family and Mumbai home from where she had gone missing as a kid. Amina eventually ended up 1,540 km away in Idukki, Kerala and is now married with six children. During her visit last week, Amina identified the exact spot in the Kamal Amrohi Studio in Jogeshwari where, as a child, she'd sat to watch the shooting of a film starring Amir Khan.

She also recognised a relative's house in Ansari Mohalla behind Gausiya Masjid in Andheri West. In addition, the area of Amina's childhood home looks nothing like the sketch she drew from memory.

Amina in a garden at Kamal Amrohi Studio at the spot from where she saw the shoot of a film starring Amir Khan in 1994
Amina in a garden at Kamal Amrohi Studio at the spot from where she saw the shoot of a film starring Amir Khan in 1994

The couple visited Mumbai last week after the Malayalee Welfare Association, Jogeshwari (E) offered to help them look for Amina's childhood home based on what she remembered of the area.

The networking
Malayalee Welfare Association's vice president Srinivas Unnithan and a committee member Sridharan Nair accompanied Amina and Rodymon on their journey. "We were touched by the story and since it mentioned Fantasy Land, which used to be in our locality, we were sure that by the description given in the paper, we would be able to help the couple in some way. We were also touched by her husband Rodymon's support for her," Unnithan said.

Amina and Rodymon at the chabbil with the residents of Ansari Mohalla behind Gausiya Masjid
Amina and Rodymon at the chabbil with the residents of Ansari Mohalla behind Gausiya Masjid

"We asked Rodymon to come to Mumbai. They were put up in a guest house. All 150 families which are part of the association helped them in every way possible," said Nair.

The couple came with their youngest daughter one-and-a-half-year-old Mikaal and close friend Roy Mathew, who runs a stationary shop and is a social worker in Idukki. Roy had also accompanied Rodymon to meet Akele Tum Akele Hum director Mansoor Khan at his Conoor residence to confirm if a part of the movie was shot at Fantasy Land.

Based on Amina's sketch and the landmark of Fantasy Land, the group began their search in Jogeshwari.

Amina, her husband Rodymon (in white), Roy Mathew (in green) with Srinivas Unnithan (L) and Sridharan Nair (R) and of the Malyali Welfare Association, Jogeshwari (E)
Amina, her husband Rodymon (in white), Roy Mathew (in green) with Srinivas Unnithan (L) and Sridharan Nair (R) and of the Malyali Welfare Association, Jogeshwari (E)

Day One
On Thursday, November 5, they visited what used to be Fantasy Land but is now a multi-level residential complex.

"Amina was not able to recall anything. What she remembered was watching Amir Khan on a ride with the child actor who played his son in 1994," said Unnithan.

They then moved to a small municipal garden she remembered vaguely. Today the garden has been replaced by Shahid Vijay Salaskar Udyan. This too didn't jog her memory. The third destination a few metres away, Kamal Amrohi Studio, was the turning point — Amina got excited to see the studio's entrance and walked inside while others followed her.

Amina shows the place where her house used to be. A building has come up there now
Amina shows the place where her house used to be. A building has come up there now

"She took us straight to a garden on the right side and led us to a huge tree bearing the number 261. She sat on the concrete structure around it and was in tears. This was where she sat to watch Akele Hum Akele Tum being shot," said Rodymon. The group visited Powai Garden next as according to Amina, her home had been 30 minutes away from the studio and airplanes in the sky used to look huge. The search was called off in the evening.

Day Two
Armed with a fresh set of clues, the group set out again on Friday. "We were certain that her house must have been near the airport and visited places such as Asalfa, Sakinaka, Mograpada in Andheri but there was no headway. Amina's sketch also did not match any of the locations," said Unnithan.

In the evening, weary and on the verge of giving up, the group decided to try their luck at Gilbert Hill in Andheri West. As their vehicle came neared the location, an excited Amina made them halt.

Amina inside a house in Ansari Mohalla where her relatives used to live
Amina inside a house in Ansari Mohalla where her relatives used to live

"We made enquiries about all our clues and Amina led us to Anasari Mohalla, behind Gausiya Masjid, located near Gilbert Hill. She led us to a house which was her relative's. Once inside the house, she could remember her childhood. She then took everyone to the nearby Chabbil, where she used to light a diya and cried inconsolably," said Rodymon. Her relatives, the group was told, sold the place and moved out a long time ago.

The first house
Amina told Rodymon that a house close to the Chabbil was her first house and the sketch she had made was of her second house. With the help of the locals, Rodymon also learnt about a lady named Habiba Ibrahim Shah, who used to provide children as extras for film shoots. Habiba is now 70 and bed-ridden. "Amina met Habiba, but neither of them remembered having known each other. Amina was certain that she had not met her before," said Unnithan.

Day Three
On Saturday, Amina again visited all the locations and made a final attempt to find her parents or siblings. She was sure that she resided in Gilbert Hill and was confident of meeting her family or relatives.

"In the past 25 years, the city has changed a lot. It is a miracle Amina was able to find whatever she did. These memories will stay with her forever and she can tell her six children about her roots," said Unnithan.

Nair raised the concern about identifying the relatives after such a long gap. "They too should have the willingness to accept that it is their Amina. And the question over who will help identify them remains."

However, Rodymon remains determined, "Helping Maria reach her parents or siblings will make me more than happy. At the moment, this is my only mission in life."

Back at home — Kerala
Filled with revived memories of her childhood and renewed hope of finding her family, Amina left for Kerala on Sunday. "Amina remains excited about last week's events and is hopeful about finding her family," said Rodymon after they reached home on Tuesday. The couple has taken the contacts of a few residents from Ansari Mohalla, who have assured to help them. "If need be, we shall visit Mumbai again to look for Amina's family. Had it not been for the Malayalee Welfare Association, we would never have been able to locate her relatives' place and the Chabbil. We are indebted to them," said Rodymon.

Dec 5
Day Amina and Rodymon arrived in Mumbai

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