How many times have you seen an octogenarian walking aimlessly on the streets and let it pass without a second thought?
But one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the Kolkata, Kasba, did not turn a blind eye to the agony of an 80-year-old woman wandering without purpose and no companion in sight.
The octogenarian showed signs of severe memory loss and bronchitis, but the entire neighbourhood refused to give up. These locals of Nandibagan in Kasba’s Haltu area spent almost three sleepless nights running pillar to post to help the lost woman get back home.
Narrating how the members of the Haltu Milan Sangha Club spotted the woman on Tuesday, Ajoy Banerjee, a local tea shop owner and a member of the club told TOI, “It was around 7.30pm, and I found her loitering alone near the SD-8 bus stand on the main Garfa Road. She was almost being run over by a bus, and she seemed to have lost her power even to get up. When I walked up to her, she asked for food.”
When they asked her for a home address, she said she was from Deula located near Mograhat in South 24 Parganas. But she also immediately changed her answer to Barasat.
“Since there is a place called Dakshin Barasat, also in South 24 Parganas, we decided to send a few locals to the Mograhat police to enquire,” told another member, Tapas Chakraborty.
In addition to a warm shelter to spend her night in a room inside the local club, they offered her homemade `khichdi,’ the food prepared to feed the craftsmen camped there for a local Durga Pujo pandal. They even asked the watch person on night vigil at the Nandibagan Sarbojonin pandal in the vicinity to watch over her.
The neighbourhood started facing difficulties a day a later when the senior citizen refused to stay with them stating she was out on an expedition with her son and daughter-in law and had only lost her way.
She kept reassuring them that she was confident of finding her way back to them.
“Since we were not her guardians, we could not stop her. A day later, some club members found her lying in the dirt a little ahead towards Haltu crossing. She was breathing heavily. Officers of Garfa PS saw her and tried to contact an NGO but left without any success,” said Subhendu Dey, the club secretary.
She was sheltered back at the club, and a hunt for her relatives ensued on social media. But her condition started deteriorating by Thursday evening. She was later admitted to MR Bangur Hospital at 10.30pm. The woman is still recuperating, as the locals and police continue the hunt to trace her family.
The locals of Kasba have restored our faith in humanity yet again. We hope their efforts of reuniting the woman with her family reaches its culmination.