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Separated 40 years ago, united on live TV

Friday August 19, 2011 03:26:40 PM, Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS

Guwahati: Abandoned when he was four in Assam, reduced to begging on the streets of Nepal's capital Kathmandu and now a computer engineer in the US who reunited with his sister and mother after four decades on live TV. Life for Indian American Kisan Upadhyay has turned full circle.

"I am emotional, excited, overwhelmed by this reunion and that too on a live TV programme where I talked and saw my mother and elder sister after maybe 40 or 42 years," Kisan said Thursday night during a prime time live show on News Live, a satellite television channel in Assam's main city Guwahati.

Kisan joined the 90-minute show live from Durham, US, while his mother Umoti Devi spoke from Kathmandu and sister Maya Devi from Tinsukia in eastern Assam.

The story of the trio that started 40 years ago in Guwahati and ended Thursday night rivals even the most dramatic celluloid thriller.

"Now, will you come and take me? I am old and have lost my eyesight, but happy I found you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life," Umoti Devi, in her mid-70s, told her son on the show with tears rolling down her cheeks.

"I didn't abandon my two children, I was forced to do so as my husband had two other wives and ill treated me," Umoti said, wiping the tears.

Kisan, an IT specialist at Duke University, said he had hunted for his mother and sister for four decades but found no luck until the channel contacted him Aug 12.

The story that would change his life began with an Assam police official informing News Live's Riniki Bhuyan Sarma about a Kisan who was searching for his mother over the social networking site Facebook.

Kisan's story was moving - he and his sister (he didn't remember her name) were abandoned by her mother somewhere in Guwahati. The only thing he remembered was that his father was in the police department and his name was either Indra Lal Upadhaya or Indra Prasad Upadhaya and that his mother's name was probably Moti Devi.

The memories were faint. After being abandoned, a paternal aunt took him and his sister (older to him by about four-five years) to Kathmandu.

"I was put in a tea stall by my aunt where I washed utensils and also begged on the streets of Kathmandu. I fell sick, maybe in a week's time, down with pneumonia and someone admitted me to a hospital," Kisan said in an emotive flashback to his childhood years.

After three months in hospital, Kisan again found himself on the streets of Kathmandu, when someone took him to an orphanage.

"I knew my sister was married off to a stranger in Nepal; the last time I remember meeting her when I was in hospital and she said she was going back to Assam. I remember asking her to take me along but doctors probably refused permission to let me go," Kisan recalled.

Kisan was talented and studied at the orphanage in Kathmandu. He completed his postgraduation from the Tribhuvan University in Nepal before an American missionary took him to the US.

"I was lucky and then completed by Computer Engineering degree in the US and then got into the Duke University working as an IT specialist," Kisan said.

He got married to an American, Pam. But the search for his mother and sister continued, without any success.

The first story on television led to two relatives approaching the channel - the beginning of an end to a 40-year separation.

On Aug 14 (Sunday), Kisan moved a step further in his quest when Jayanti Devi and Boloram Sharma, both related to Kisan's mother, spoke to him through the channel.

"Her name is not Moti Devi but Umoti Devi and Kisan's sister's name is Maya Devi. Kisan's mother is in Nepal and I can get her details in a day or two," Boloram and Jayanti told Kisan during the live show.

Two days later, the jigsaw puzzle had almost been solved - sister Maya had been traced to the Bahadur tea garden in Tinsukia, a mother of three and married to a cook. And efforts were made to reach Kathmandu to locate the mother.

Umoti Devi was finally located in a remote village, six hours from Kathmandu, old and frail, but managing a small shop by herself.

Umoti was convinced to come to Kathmandu for the grand reunion on live television.

Kisan, meanwhile, was excited and frequently called the channel to ask if he could see her face on webcam or by way of a photograph emailed to him.

But the suspense continued until 9.30 p.m. Thursday.

There were tears of joy as the reunion ended with a firm assurance from Kisan that he would be in Assam very soon and that Umoti would also be brought from Kathmandu.

(Syed Zarir Hussain is special correspondent of IANS and also Managing Editor of News Live. He can be reached at






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