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Sanjana...........A Way Back Home

Sanjana………A Way Back Home

She was wailing and crying, creating a scene there, but no one could calm her down. The situation had been occurring quite often since she was brought to Navachetana by Police when they found her roaming around in the streets. She would not be more than 18 years of age. She said her name is Sanjana. Her innocent face and her mannerism indicated that she is from a middle-class family. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by the Psychiatrist. Most of the time, she used to be in a state of excitement. She would pour her heart out in singing Hindi songs and reciting the filmy dialogues. Sometimes she would roll around in the courtyard crying hysterically. At times, she would be all quiet and sit in a corner, would stop eating and if asked anything, would begin to cry. Our staffs had to face a hard time in managing and administering her medicines.

With the passing days, Sanjana gradually showed signs of improvement. She was fond of reading books and loved playing carrom. No one in the centre could beat her in the game. After getting regular counselling she started recollecting about the place to where she belonged and mentioned about Bihar. She talked about her whole family and gave us an elaborate description of her school friends. But she couldn't recall how she ended up in Guwahati. Whenever she used to talk about her parents she would become melancholic. She was keen to return back to her home. We started enquiring about her home address in all possible ways.

One day, I received a surprising call from a friend, coincidentally from Bihar. While talking to him for a long time, I mentioned him about Sanjana and requested for his help in finding the address that she gave us. He assured me to do his best to give us a positive result.

Within a few days, he called me again and gave me the good news, as I was expecting. I closed my eyes in excitement and started listening to him. He said that he found Sanjana's address; she is from one of his nearby villages. Her father works in the court and he immediately got on a train to Guwahati after hearing about her whereabouts. He was about to be reached by the next day and my friend would accompany him to our centre.

Hearing of her father's arrival to take her home, Sanjana was filled with immense happiness. She came to me, took hold of my hand and said, "Mummyji, will you come to see me at my home?" I touched her gently and said, "Of course I will come. You have to take care of yourself and you must take the medicines on time as advised by the doctor. I would never want to see you roaming around the streets again." She looked at me, shook her head and said, "I will always remember your words."

Sanjana’s father arrived at our place the next day. He was a bit hesitant to face his beloved daughter after a span of eight months. Seeing her father, Sanjana wailed and hugged him. He hugged her back tightly and cried. We were all silent witnesses to this unique reunion. A heavenly happiness engulfed my mind and heart. We all cried at that time- we cried in happiness!

Later, Sanjana’s father began to narrate Sanjana's story in a language which was a mix of Bihari and Hindi. Sanjana is their eldest daughter and is seventeen years old. She has two younger brothers. Being the only daughter, she was really precious to her father. She studied till Class eight in the village school. She was brilliant in her studies and was good in sports, dance and music too. But there came a sudden change; the girl who was full of life gradually turned silent. She lost interest in her studies and besides, she started alienating herself inside the room. The parents were confused and assumed that someone may have practiced Black Magic on her. From then on, they started all kind of rituals after visiting different faith healers. But things were getting worse. She gradually started picking up fights with everyone in the village using foul and abusive languages. That was the day when they were getting ready to go to a temple to offer puja for Sanjana. After getting dressed up, Sanjana was sitting on the veranda. When they all were about to leave, they found that Sanjana was missing. She used to go out of the house in many previous occasions, but the villagers would trace her and bring her back home. So, without much apprehension, they began to search for her. But when she was not found till dusk, they became frightened. Her relatives and neighbours ventured out in four motorbikes to search for her in every nook and corner of the village. This went on for two days, but she was not found. Then they suspected that she might have gone towards the train station and had alighted on a train. For seven days, they camped at the Railway station assuming that maybe she would return by some train one day. The father then said, when we could not trace her for eight months, we lost all hope to find her. I never dreamt that I would find my dearest daughter in this way. He became emotional and started weeping again.

Sanjana with her bag of clothes and other belongings was ready to leave. Her father bowed down in front of us showing his gratitude. He invited us all to their house. Sanjana touched everybody’s feet seeking blessings. She hugged me and asked me again if I would come to see her. I was filled with so much of emotions that I had no words to say. I shook my head and patted her back. All staff and residents of the centre bid adieu to Sanjana with heavy hearts. I prayed to God that Sanjana who had filled our hearts with love would always be fine. The sight of Sanjana holding her father’s hand and walking out of the gate of Navchetana gave me an unfathomable pleasure!

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Dr. Anjana Goswami, the founder-director of Ashadeep has extensively covered various aspects of Mental Health in her publications. She has authored two Assamese books on the first-hand experience of working with homeless individuals with mental illness and their transformational stories. Dr. Goswami’s association with Special Olympics Bharat also gives her an insight into the importance of sports for individuals with disabilities, which is often reflected in her writings.

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