By Sidrah Roghay
KARACHI: Geeta is waiting for her Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Will Salman Khan help her out too?
Eleven years ago, Geeta, now 23, crossed the Indian border through Lahore. When a soldier on the Pakistan side arrested her, she was unable to tell him what happened. Deaf and mute— she only speaks in signs.
The kind officer handed her over to the Edhi centre, the largest charity organization of the country where she lives to this day.
She was transferred to the women shelter run by Bilquees Edhi, Abdus Sattar Edhi’s wife in Karachi’s old Kharadar. Here she lives like a little princess.
When Bilquees found out she was a Hindu, she would board a Rickshaw and frequently take her to the Swami Narayan temple nearby. But the always busy social worker found those trips tiresome. So she made her a temple inside the shelter.
A statue of Ganesh, Lord Krishna, Ram and Seeta adorn the walls. Geeta prays here, and when she’s done she locks it from outside. It’s her own private place which she keeps spick and span.
“Geeta is our Amanat. So we never tried to change her religion,” said Faisal Edhi, a board member of the Edhi trust.
But Geeta pines for home. She makes a plane out of her hand— and flies it into the air. She wants to go home, she means. She places a finger on her nose— her mother probably wore a nose pin—she misses her she tries to explain.
Faisal, explains that from what he has learnt in 11 years, Geeta was visiting a pooja mela with her family near the border when she got lost. She sat on an unknown bus which brought her across the border.
Geeta can write Hindi, which not many people can read in Pakistan and broken English—mother, father sister, a number 193 which is probably a street or house number.
As Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan hit the screens—Geeta has become a mini celebrity. Journalists in groups have been visiting her—promising to highlight her case.
She sits with them—explains to them as best as she can—scrunching her nose—thinking hard—remembering bits from the past— anything that would get her back home.
Has she watched the movie yet? No. Does she know who Salman Khan is? No, again.
It’s unbelievable how similar her story is to Salman Khan’s blockbuster.
Shahida (Harshaali Malhotra) is a speech impaired girl. Her mother takes her to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s Darga in Delhi to pray for her speech to return. In the middle of the night, the train in which Shahida and her mother are traveling stops due to a delay right next to the border. Everyone is sleeping, when the bored child spots a rabit and runs after it. She misses the train—and lost she board a bus which brings her across the border.
Here she meets Salman Khan, an unemployed man looking for work in Delhi. The two strike a friendship and Salman vows to reunite her with her family.
The Edhi centre is hoping that with the movie doing wonders in the box office—the time to highlight Geeta’s case is right.
“If we gather enough support across the border Geeta might be able to get home. For now we don’t even know which state she belongs to,” said Faisal.
Will Geeta find her Bajrangi Bhaijaan? There is a ray of hope.
Photos by Abbas bin Yasir