“I am lost..I am trying to find my mother…I am Shahrukh…Shahrukh Mondal”…
These were the first few words uttered by a 7 year old, when he was rescued by the RPF from Platform No.4 of Sealdah Station, Kolkata, India. As the little child pushed his way through the crowd of thousands of people in the platform, his eyes searching every nook and corner for his mother, his wails and cries got drowned in the noise and din, and finally he was handed over safely to the Sealdah Child-Line by the RPF. A distressed Shahrukh was questioned about his whereabouts, his mother’s name, the name of his village, how he lost his way…but Shahrukh only managed to provide the bare minimum information to the social workers of Child-Line. Thus Shahrukh’s new address became the Child-Line home “Uttaran”.
Shahrukh began his journey at “Uttaran” with many such kids – Bhola, Krishna, Raihan, Abhijit, Mansoor…Shahrukh started spending his days with his new group of friends. The huge storeroom beside the Platform no. 9, nearly 100 years old, was their shelter. With the help of the railway people and the selfless and loving initiative by a private NGO, Shahrukh became a part of a daily routine. His morning started with prayers, followed by breakfast, studies, playing in the railway tracks and the platform, square meals a day, fun and frolic with friends filled Shahrukh’s days with sunshine. In his heart of hearts, Shahrukh used to yearn for his mother, especially on days when it rained. He used to sit in a corner and weep for his mother. He used to miss his village, the moss covered white walls of his house, his pet cat, wet football ground in his school….everything.
While Shahrukh was spending his days in “Uttaran“, the NGO, the RPF were actively involved in trying to find Shahrukh’s mother. The nearby police stations had already been informed, and they all prayed for the reunion of the mother and child. After 7 months of tiring efforts made by the NGO, Shahrukh’s prayers were finally answered. Shyamali Mondal (Shahrukh’s mother) found her son, finally they found each other and Shahrukh walked away holding his mother’s hand to his home in Champahati, Bengal.
I was a part of Shahrukh’s journey of seven months, a part of his memories, his hope, his fear, his love. I still remember the day when Shahrukh’s mother had come to take her child; there were tears of joy in the child’s eyes and a smile which reflected his inner peace. It seemed he had already started missing his new found friends, Bhola and Mansoor. They were also crying that day, but strange as it was, I could not decipher whether they were crying for Shahrukh or whether they were waiting with hope to hold their mother’s hand…maybe someday…maybe some other time.
About the author:
Debiprasad is an Indian freelance documentary photographer based out of Kolkata, India. He has completed his Post Graduation in Business Management. Though Debi is a Business Consultant by profession, but his strong passion for documentary photography & photojournalism made him travel to various countries. His photographs have been published in many international magazines/websites e.g. Vogue Italia, National Geographic, F-Stop, Fotoforum, , Society of International Travel & Tourism Photographers, Dodho, Positive Magazine, The Telegraph, Life Force Magazine, Social Documentary Network, Private Photo Review, Edge of Humanity, World Street Photography etc.