It was one of the most emotional reunions of a child with her mother. This is a story of a 42-year-old daughter, who was separated by her biological Indian mother in Maharashtra in 1973.
Elisabet Purve-Jorendal, who was adopted a Swedish family 42 years ago, often wondered about her biological mother and wanted to trace her. Her adopted parents supported her in her quest.
She told BBC from Sweden, “My mother was 21 years old. She had been married to my father, a farmer, for three years when one day he came home after a fight with someone. He was very angry. He killed himself. He had consumed pesticides,.”
Her mother went to stay her parents, who wanted her to get married again.
“But she was pregnant, and she didn’t even know,” she said.
The family took her to a nearby charity after learning about her pregnancy. While at the charity, she delivered a baby girl.
She stayed there for few months, nursed and looked after her baby. Purve-Jorendal was adopted by a couple in Sweden when she turned two-and-a-half. She was given a new name and life.
She said, “But I always wondered about my mother in India. Who was she? How was she? Why did she leave me? I knew I needed to find her since I was a part of her. I wanted to get answers to all my questions.”
With just names of her mother and her grandfather that were in the adoption papers at her disposal, Purve-Jorendal started her quest in 1998.
“I realised how hard it was to get anywhere with that. How do you find someone in a country of 1.2 billion people? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. You must have the right connections, know how to press the right buttons.”
In 2014, she contacted a Belgium-based Against Child Trafficking, who got back to her in August last year informing her with the news she desperately wanted to her. Her mother had been traced in a village in Maharashtra in India.
She said, “I can’t describe my feelings. Here was a person I had longed for my whole life and then I see her photograph. It was beyond imagination. It was a miracle.”
She wasted no time in travelling back to India to meet the person who had given birth to her.
“And suddenly I was there. Outside her house, outside her door. A social worker had been in touch with her so she was expecting me. She was sitting down and stood up when she saw me. I had a blackout, I did not react. She was also shocked.”
Purve-Jorendal’s mother, who now has one son and a daughter from a second husband, had kept her first pregnancy secret. Her second husband too died last year and she now lives with her son, daughter-in-law and their children.
Purve-Jorendal was told not to cry to save embarrassment for her mother. She was introduced as her brother’s cousin.
She invited her mother to her hotel to be able to have a conversation.
“In the taxi, we found each other’s hands. And for the two-hour-long ride, we kept holding hands.
“She said she didn’t want to leave me. She wanted to take me with her, but she didn’t have a choice. She didn’t know I was in Sweden. She had no idea where I was. She said she’d thought she would never see me again.”
Purve-Jorendal spent two days in the village and when the time came to leave, she didn’t want to leave.
“At our final meeting, I didn’t want to leave her. I started crying. She was sitting next to me and as tears rolled down my cheeks, she wiped them with the corner of her sari and said, ‘Don’t cry my child.’ At that moment, I knew she loved me.”
Purve-Jorendal said that she was amazed at the resemblance she had with her mother. She said her Indian family called her a ‘carbon copy’ of her mother.
She said, “We don’t just look like each other, we also have the same mannerisms, we use the same hand gestures, how we sit.”
She now says that she no longer wants to live away from her mother.
“She’s my blood, my real roots.”