On November 5, Vidya M.R, a computer assistant at the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, went to the central railway station to meet a friend of her and little did she know that it was going to be a special day in her life.
There, she just saw an old woman, wearing clothes that hadn’t been washed for days holding polythene bags. Vidya went on to follow her and saw the old lady plucking fruit from the trees and eating. Vidya asked, “Are you hungry?” “No,” came the reply from the old woman.
But nonetheless, Vidya bought an idli and vada for her. As the elderly woman ate, Vidya struck a conversation, asking her some questions. When Vidya, offered food to the woman and asked about her whereabouts, she was informed that the woman she was feeding was a retired teacher.
Soon she uploaded her photo in Facebook with a brief note on her encounter with Valsa teacher in the hope of finding someone who would know her. Minutes after she posted the photo, her mobile phone started ringing non-stop as she got calls from Valsa teacher’s former students at Islamic Public School, Malappuram.
“My phone has not stopped ringing since I uploaded her picture. I received several calls from her former students. Many of them now stay in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia. A few of her students from Malappuram even said that they are leaving for Thiruvananthapuram to take her home. All I could understand from her students was that she was a great teacher and I am glad that I could help her,” Vidya.
As the post went viral, the district admission and corporation also received alert, following which sub-collector Divya S Iyer along with corporation officials brought her to the old age home, Sayahnam, run by the corporation. On questions about her family, Valsa said, “My son will know that I am here and will take me home. I had reached Thampanoor to give him food.”
Valsa says that she has a service of 33 years as a mathematics teacher and has also worked in Hyderabad. “This place is like a hostel in Malappuram, where I stayed for 14 years. But I will be leaving soon as my son will take me to my home at Pettah,” said Valsa.
“When we were informed about her, we contacted the health standing committee chairperson Geetha Gopal and made necessary arrangements at Sayahnam. She seems disturbed and we will take her to the hospital for a check-up. We could not verify the information about her and asked the local body representatives here to inquire about her,” said P R Jayakumari, charge officer of Sayhanam.
Vidya’s interventions through social media on the day helped the retired school teacher who was found abandoned and begging outside the railway station to reach a safe shelter and to reunite with her old students.
But a dignified Valsa refused to go with her students and insisted that she’d only leave with her son and husband. Meanwhile, the police were informed. As per a report, it is a case of abandoning. The police found Valsa’a sister and are now looking for her husband and son.