If you use social media, you must have surely come across this picture.
She is Valsa, a former Maths teacher at a school in Malappuram, Kerala. Three years ago, a woman Vidya M.R spotted her begging at a railway station in Kerala and her life changed thereafter.
When Vidya met the retired school teacher outside the railway station, she was wearing unwashed clothes.
Speaking to the Outlook, Vidya explained what happened that day. She said:
There were a couple of polythene bags with her containing water bottles and old pieces of clothes. I saw her plucking and eating small fruits from the nearest tree, so carefully as if she did not want a single leaf to fall down because of her.
Vidya got some food for her from a nearby restaurant and started talking to her to know her whereabouts.
From their conversation, it turned out that the old woman was a retired teacher who worked at a school in Malappuram district in Kerala. So, Vidya clicked a few pictures of the old woman and shared an emotional anecdote on Facebook.
As I looked on, the teacher, carrying her old polythene bags, slowly disappeared into the crowd. I am not sure whether her version is fully true or not. But, one thing I am sure about is that she is not a mad woman on the street. She is, indeed, an educated woman! If what she said is true, I wish if someone from her Malappuram school recognizes her...
Valsa's students recognised her and responded to Vidya's Facebook post. They expressed their wish to offer her shelter.
Vidya again shared a Facebook post appealing her students to help find the teacher on the streets. Their united efforts bore fruit and Valsa was shifted to an old-age home Sayahnam, with the help of the sub-collector Divya S. Iyer.
When asked if Valsa was mentally stable or not, Divya told the Outlook:
Her self esteem is commendable even at this stage. She refused when I offered to hold her bags when I took her to my vehicle. Same was the case when I offered to hold her hand while climbing the staircase. But, at the same time, she wants a good company.
As per last reports about her in 2017, she was staying with the same old-age home waiting for her son to come and take her. Till then, nobody from her family had contacted the municipal corporation.
While Vidya’s efforts are commendable, it is disturbing and painful to see an elderly woman and a former teacher being abandoned by her family and left to fend for herself.