After miracle reunion, Indian mom, son find divide

By Ravi Nessman

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 10 2012 6:30 a.m. MDT

"I was hoping that my son would come back. How could I have known that my son would not come back," she hisses into the phone. "With my heart and my soul I prayed to the almighty, I went walking barefoot for your sake. Why will my prayers not be answered? You continue staying there, son. If you think of a family, think only about that side of the family."

Saroo doesn't want to overthink it. He wants to revel in the joy of their remarkable reunion. For him, it has been a miracle punctuated by a happy ending.

"It's sort of taken a weight off my shoulders," he says. "Instead of going to bed at night and thinking, 'How is my family? Are they still alive?' I know in my head now I can let those questions rest."

He hopes to visit India once or twice a year, but he cannot move back. He has other responsibilities, other family and a whole other life in Tasmania.

He is Australian now.

"This is where I live," he says. "When I come back, whether it's sooner or later, then we can start building our relationship again."

Fatima is confused and frustrated.

She doesn't want him to move back here, where there is nothing. But she wants to be with him. Maybe she can move to Australia, she says. She adds sternly that she would ban all girlfriends from his house.

A few minutes later she softens. She couldn't really move away from her life here to an unfamiliar place where no one can talk with her, she says.

At least, and at last, Saroo's return has brought her "mental peace," she says. She tries to understand that he has new parents, new expectations and a new life a world away.

She just wants him to see her once in a while, to call her occasionally, even if they can only speak a few sentences to each other.

"For the moment," she says, "it's enough for me that I went to him. And he called me Amma."

Mother.

This story was reported by Nessman from Khandwa, India, and Gelineau from Sydney, Australia. It is based on multiple interviews with Saroo Brierley, his girlfriend Lisa Williams, mother Fatima Munshi, sister Shakila Khan, a representative of the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption, photographs of Saroo and Fatima's reunion, and the reporters' own observations from watching and listening to them.

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