LUCKNOW: This seems straight out of a Manmohan Desai flick. A deaf and mute youth lost 26 years ago at a fair is reunited with his family due to his tattooed arm. And this isn’t just a happy ending – it is the beginning of happiness for a man who suffered silently for nearly three decades.
Born with hearing and speech impairment since birth, Jilajit Singh Maurya, the youngest son a well-off farming family, had gone missing from the outskirts of his village, Gothan, in Azamgarh in 1996. He was 35 then.
“This happened on a summer evening, on June 1, 1996, when Jilajit had gone to see a fair near the village. He didn’t return,” said his nephew, Chandrashekhar Maurya (46), who teaches science to junior classes in a government school in Azamgarh.
Jilajit’s father, Sohan Maurya, and two brothers were distraught and inconsolable. His mother had died in 1991.
“He wasn’t even mentally as much alert as others. My grandfather cried for months as my dad and uncle visited adjoining districts looking for him. There was no trace of him. We even visited pilgrimage sites, offered alms to the poor, conducted several rituals but all in vain,” said Chandrashekhar.
As years went by, people came to terms with the loss. Jilajit’s father died in 2011. The family witnessed generational change as Jilajit’s nephews and nieces married and had children.
He was now referred to in the past tense – memory of a sad loss the family had since recovered from. Nobody had imagined even in their wildest dreams that he would one day come back alive.
But he did.
At a barber’s shop in Hatwa village of Raebareli, 260 km west of Azamgarh, village pradhan Dilip Singh spotted an old man in a bad shape who couldn’t speak or hear. The clue to his whereabouts, a ‘godna’ (an indigenous tattoo using natural dye) on his arm, that had his name and address, had since faded. But ‘Maurya’ and ‘Azamgarh’ were still legible.
The kind-hearted pradhan took him to his house, fed him and clicked a picture of his tattooed arm and later posted it on Facebook. It was shared by his acquaintances and then further by theirs – until it reached one of the relatives of the Maurya family.
“On December 13, a fellow teacher sent me the photo of an elder person with a faded tattoo on his arms. It was taken from Facebook and posted by one Shivendra Singh of Amethi,” said Chandrashekhar.
“Without thinking, I sent a message to Shivendra Singh, who turned out to village pradhan Dilip Singh’s son, and then ran to my dad to show him the picture,” he added.
When TOI spoke with Shivendra, he said, “My father brought him home, fed him and called a doctor. Then, we started the Herculean task to find his family members.”
After Jilajit’s two brothers confirmed his identity, Chandrashekhar and along with younger brother who works with the electricity department left for Amethi to bring back their uncle.
“I was 20 when he was lost. But I could recognize him instantly. When we brought him home, it was like a festival in the village,” he said.
“My father and elder brother of ‘Jilajit’, Jamvant who is in his 70s, began to dance when he got to see his younger brother after 26 years. My other uncle, who is Jilajit’s younger brother, asked us to prepare kheer and distribute it among the villagers,” Chandrashekhar said.
“My uncle has suffered enough. Nobody would know that pain as he cannot communicate. But we would like to put this all behind and ensure he leads a happy and fulfilling life,” he said.

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