After straying into Pakistan 13 years ago, a hearing and speech impaired Indian woman is finally set to return home.
Geeta, now 23, identified her father, step-mother and step-siblings from Bihar in a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
No one is happier for Geeta now than Bilquees Edhi of Edhi Foundation which had adopted her.
Geeta is likely to be flown home after her documents are sorted out
“The Indian government had already given us probable dates of 19 or 26 October,” Anwar Kazmi, an Edhi official, said about Geeta’s travel plans. “Documentation is being prepared for the departure dates.”
Sushma Swaraj, Indian minister for external affairs, tweeted: “Geeta will be back in India soon. We have located her family. She will be handed over to them only after the DNA test.”
But 13 years ago, it was another story as a disoriented Geeta was sitting alone on the Samjhota Express that had travelled across the border to Pakistan.
Lahore police officers took the girl to the Edhi Foundation where she remained while the charity tried to track down her family with no success.
After she picked up fights with staff and tried to escape several times, Bilquees brought her to her own home in Karachi six months ago.
Describing through sign language the circumstances that made her leave her family, Geeta told AFP that one day she became annoyed with her parents, left their house and kept walking for hours.
“Then”, swinging her hands back and forth in a loop, a sign for a moving train, “I boarded the train and slept.”
Through sign language, she said her home is next to a river, set against green fields behind a hospital and a restaurant.
Earlier, while living in the shelter, Geeta was treated like a special inmate. She had a private temple — a room with posters of the Hindu gods Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Durga and Ganesha.
Every day, she used to light the earthen lamps and incense before praying to the gods and goddesses for an early return home.
Bilquees, who regarded herself as Geeta’s guardian, was certain that one day the gods will hear her prayers.
“Here in Pakistan, she is an amaanat of her parents with us,” Bilquees said meaning that she is keeping her in trust for her parents as a custodian.
“She wants to go back because she misses them. And we want her wish to come true. But it has been more than 10 years. She is 23 now. I don’t know how much more she has to wait,” she had said in an interview.
In August, the Indian High Commissioner Dr T.C.A. Raghavan and his wife visited Geeta.
Dr Raghavan showed her pictures and maps of India but she was unable to pinpoint the location from where she had come.
Geeta scribbled something in Sanskrit but he could not decipher it.
The High Commissioner left with an assurance that he would try everything within his power to find Geeta’s parents or relatives.
On Thursday, the Indian High Commission emailed pictures of a family in Bihar, India’s third-most populous state, to the foundation.