The search gets se­ri­ous…

Friday - - Society The Big Story -

North Carolina – to at­tend col­lege at Durham Tech. “Dr Starmer was a very lov­ing man. He taught me noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble. He be­lieved life’s strug­gles are mere chal­lenges that can be over­come with hard work. While their daugh­ter Rachel helped me with my English home­work, Mrs Starmer of­fered to pay for gui­tar lessons.”

For pocket money he de­liv­ered news­pa­pers and tended neigh­bours’ gar­dens at week­ends.

Af­ter the course at Durham Tech, Kisan earned a de­gree in elec­tronic engineering from Duke Univer­sity. To­day he con­tin­ues to work there as an as­sis­tant engi­neer.

It was at Duke Univer­sity that he met Pam Fox, a stu­dent there, whom he mar­ried in 1995. They adopted Sud­heshma, a lit­tle girl from Nepal, in 1997. Their son Kevin was born in 1999. Yet, one thing con­tin­ued to bother Kisan. “I wanted to find my fa­ther, mother and es­pe­cially Maya, who loved me and took care of me dur­ing life’s dark mo­ments,’’ he says. But he didn’t know where to start. “I con­tacted sev­eral peo­ple I knew in Nepal but no­body seemed to have an idea about where Maya was.’’ At­tempts to con­tact his aunt were un­suc­cess­ful. “I then de­cided to go online to see if I could get any clues to my fam­ily’s where­abouts,’’ says Kisan. He found the first link in the chain when he came across the Face­book pro­file of a Nepalese school teacher called Deep­akWa­gle, who came from the same vil­lage as him in Nepal. Kisan sent him a mes­sage say­ing he was des­per­ately search­ing for his fam­ily in As­sam and Nepal.

Deepak promptly agreed to help. “Al­though I’d never met Kisan, I wanted to help him be­cause he ap­peared to be des­per­ate to find his long-lost fam­ily,” says Deepak.

“I put up a post on Face­book de­tail­ing Kisan’s story and seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about his fa­ther, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer in As­sam.”

How­ever, the go­ing was not easy. Kisan could not re­mem­ber if his fa­ther’s name was In­dra Prasad Upad­haya or In­dra Lal Upad­haya. Nei­ther could he re­mem­ber his mother’s name.

“How­ever, he was sure that his fa­ther was a po­lice of­fi­cer,’’ says Deepak.

Af­ter sev­eral false starts, Deepak chanced upon the Face­book pro­file of a man named Pran­ab­jy­oti Goswami, the Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice in As­sam, and asked him to help find Kisan’s fam­ily. Pran­ab­jy­oti agreed.

Be­liev­ing some­body in Kisan’s fam­ily could still be in As­sam, the of­fi­cer sought the me­dia’s help and ap­proached News Live, a lo­cal TV chan­nel in As­sam, with Kisan’s story.

The chan­nel broad­cast the story along with Kisan’s photographs of his teenage years, which Kisan had sourced from the care home and sent to Deepak.

The break­through came af­ter Bal Ram Sharma, Kisan’s pa­ter­nal un­cle, called the stu­dio. He had seen the pro­gramme and was keen to re­unite the fam­ily. He had de­tails of the fam­ily: Umoti, he said, had re­mar­ried and was now liv­ing in a re­mote vil­lage in Nepal, while Maya was mar­ried and liv­ing with her hus­band and three chil­dren in Tin­sukia, As­sam. In­dra Lal, Kisan’s fa­ther, had died sev­eral years ago.

News Live ar­ranged a meet­ing of the trio in the vir­tual world on Au­gust 28, 2011, a date Kisan is un­likely to for­get.

“Over Skype from the US, my mother’s face was not clear and I could not talk to her prop­erly due to poor net­work con­nec­tion,” re­mem­bers Kisan. “But I was so happy to see her – even vir­tu­ally.’’

Two weeks later, he flew with Pam to In­dia to meet his long-lost fam­ily.

“Words can­not de­scribe my emo­tions on meet­ing my mother and beloved sis­ter af­ter more than 40 years. We just hugged and cried. It was some­thing I had been wait­ing for for decades. When I look back, I think of all the years that have gone by that were heart wrench­ing. I was like an or­phan with no­body to call my own.

“While grow­ing up at the char­ity and later in the US, there wasn’t a day when I didn’t think about my sis­ter. She looked af­ter me like a son, car­ing for me dur­ing the most dif­fi­cult times.

“I’ve tried to put down all those thoughts in my book The Last Orange. The ti­tle says it all – my life changed af­ter I had that orange in our house in As­sam 40-odd years ago.

“Al­though the book is de­tailed with tragedy, I don’t want read­ers to feel sorry for me be­cause there are mil­lions of other Kisans and Mayas out there who still are suf­fer­ing. I hope this book will be­come an in­spi­ra­tion to many.’’

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