It had been a daily ritual for Pratima Ruidas for the last 17 years. Every morning,as she lit the lamp in front of an idol of Goddess Kali,Pratima prayed for only thing – her missing husband should return home.
She firmly believed that her husband was alive somewhere. Her belief came true on Monday when Pratima,now 39 years old,reunited with her husband,Subodh Ruidas (43),at Vidya Sagar Mental Health Institute,Amritsar.
The reunion came 15 days before the couples younger daughter,Kuku Moni,is scheduled to tie the knot at Akui village in Bankura district of West Bengal.
After reaching the hospital early on Monday,an emotional Pratima asked her husband,Chinte Parcho (Do you recognise me)?
As Subodh answered in affirmative,they hugged each other tears rolling down their eyes.
I knew he would be back. I did not have any idea that he had gone to Pakistan and was taken prisoner there. He had left home after having a dispute with my parents. He was hit in the head in the scuffle and had became mentally ill, Pratima said.
Much has changed since Subodh went missing 17 years ago from his home. He spent nearly 12 years in a jail in Pakistan after he boarded a train to the neighbouring country in a state of mental illness. He was repatriated to India in 2007 and ever since had been undergoing treatment at Vidya Sagar Mental Health Institute,Amritsar.
After the efforts to trace the address of Subodh and 14 others like him who were repatriated from Pakistan and are undergoing treatment at the institute failed to yield any result,Institute director Dr B L Goel requisitioned BSF personnel hailing from different states to talk to them in their respective languages.
It was then that we found his address and reached the family. I wrote to the Resident Commissioner of West Bengal in New Delhi informing him about the address a couple of months back and today his family came to take him, Goel said,adding that eight more persons from Orissa,West Bengal,Haryana and Assam would soon be reunited with their families.
Meanwhile,Pratima is elated. My prayers have been answered. Now,he will do the kanya daan of our second daughter,who is getting married on August 6, Pratima,said,adding that she married off their elder daughter a few years ago.
Besides two daughters,Subodh has a son who was only two-and-a-half-years old when Subodh went missing. His daughters were five and seven years old.