Oversleeping on board a train, just ahead of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in March, turned life into a nightmare for a 70-year-old Madurai woman who has been stuck in Mangaluru, Karnataka, for over two months. After 80 long days, she was reunited with her family on Sunday night.

K. Kasthuri, a resident of Arapalayam in Madurai, had boarded a special train from Villupuram to reach Madurai on March 20. She overslept, missing her destination and detrained in Thrissur, Kerala. She then took a bus to Mangaluru. Unfortunately, train services were suspended in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

She was stuck alone, without a mobile phone or knowledge of the local language. From being stranded in a camp initially to being admitted to a Government Mental Health Care Centre in Kozhikode, Kerala, Ms. Kasturi endured a lot of hardship.

Team effort

On Sunday night, the septuagenarian reached Madurai to be with her daughter, thanks to the efforts of the district Red Cross team and the intervention of Collector T.G. Vinay.

“I was relieved when I met my daughter, the only relative I have. I used to think that I might die without being able to see her,” she said.

Ms. Kasthuri said that she was at the camp in Mangaluru for around 15 days.

“I then started walking towards Madurai. At the time, a volunteer arranged a vehicle for me and I was dropped at Kannur, Kerala,” she said.

After being screened for COVID-19 at a government hospital, Ms. Kasthuri was shifted to the Government Mental Health Care Centre in Kozhikode. “When I heard that my mother [who called using the phone of a driver] was stuck at the hospital, I was shocked,” said M. Sripriya.

She then petitioned the Collector, requesting him to help her bring back her mother to Madurai.

The Red Cross team and officials of the Madurai district administration spoke to their counterparts in Kerala and an e-pass was procured for her travel. “Initially, I rejected their offer. I was afraid that I would be quarantined if I travel to Kerala. Being a single mother, I could not afford to leave my son alone,” she said.

“But the Collector assured me that I would return home with my mother safely. So I travelled with Red Cross members and brought my mother home,” she said.

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