The first time people of Kidderpore noticed Abdullah, he was sitting near a pile of garbage and reciting verses from the Quran. That was almost 15 years ago. On Wednesday, Abdullah embarked on another chapter in his life as Suresh Kamble.
Abdullah was born Suresh Govind Kamble and for the first three decades of his life, lived in Maharashtra and served as an X-ray technician at different State-run hospitals. In 1989, when he lost his job and became mentally disturbed, losing his memory in the process, he left his home, in Sangli district. It was in 2003 that he landed in Kidderpore and became Abdullah.
“I have been comfortable with both these identities, Abdullah and Suresh Kamble. The people of Kidderpore gave me that name Abdullah when I could not recall who I was. They took care of me and provided me an identity, so how can I discard this name now,” he said.
On a humid afternoon, the 60-year-old – who has spent the past 15 years working as a grocery shop helper of Nehal Khan at 1/2 Orphangunje Road in Kidderpore – appeared to be at peace and spoke in small sentences. His wife Vimal, son Mithun and daughter Supriya, whom he met only a few hours before, were by his side at the shop. The family has come to take him back to Maharashtra.
“I am feeling that I am losing a friend. But I am happy for his family,” Mr Khan said, urging the members of the Kamble family to stay with him for a day.
It was Nehal Khan who had first started a conversation with Abdullah, a wanderer at the time, who would walk past the shop daily to visit a nearby shrine. “When I offered him food he started talking to me. For years he could not recollect where his home was and how he landed in Kolkata,” Mr Khan said.
Representatives of Iswar Sankalpa, a non-government organisation working for the homeless and people with mental illness in Kolkata, came to the rescue of Mr. Kamble and provided him medical help. Sarbani Das Roy, secretary of the NGO, said that Mr. Kamble was suffering from schizophrenia. The NGO circulated his photographs and was able to locate his family on June 15, 2019.
“The rescue and reunion of Mr. Kamble with his family is a classic case where people have risen over narrow religious beliefs to give humanity a chance.,” Ms. Das Roy said.
Source: The Hindu