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Finding Aaron: A Lost-And-Found Miracle

May 31, 2023 08:56 IST
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John and Tamilarasi had their newborn stolen eight years ago, and lost all hope of ever finding him.
Now they have got him back, though not fully. Not yet.
A Ganesh Nadar/ narrates their miraculous story.

Illustrations: Dominic Xavier/

Aaron was the elder brother of Moses in the Old Testament. This Aaron is also an elder brother, a fact that he did not know till he was eight years old.

For, Aaron was kidnapped when he was only one month old.

He was reunited with his parents eight years later, affirming the belief that miracles do happen even in the 21st century.

But first, the back story.

John Jebbaraj, now 36, a driver in Chennai, married Tamilarasi, now 35, in 2013 at the Annai Velankanni shrine in Besant Nagar, Chennai. Aaron was born on October 28, 2014.

The couple had gone to get their baby boy vaccinated, where they befriended a lady named S Devi. A couple of days later Devi visited them at their home in Thirumullaivoyal on the outskirts of Chennai. John had gone to work and Tamilarasi was at home with the new-born.

Tamilarasi left the baby with Devi and went to buy tea for her guest. Devi had told her that she was looking for a home to rent. When Tamilarasi returned with the tea, she was shocked to find that her baby and Devi were both missing.

Frantic, she called her husband and they searched all over for Aaron. Finally they filed a complaint at the Thirumullaivoyal police station on November, 29, 2014. A year later the police closed the case as they could not locate the baby.

The couple had a second son on December 15, 2015, and a daughter on January 25, 2018. While John continues to work as a driver, Tamilarasi works as a maid to supplement their income.

Now cut to the present.

The years passed by, but the couple never gave up hope. One day, by sheer fortune, John spotted the kidnapper Devi in Anna Nagar, in northern Chennai. He clearly remembers the date: August 5, 2022. As he was not fully sure, he called his wife who took an auto to reach the spot.

In the meanwhile, true to the latest trend, John shot Devi's picture and a video on his phone. When the kidnapper saw Tamilarasi she recognised her and fled from the spot. John called the police on 100, but the kidnapper had vanished.

Devi had been inside a temple and John had also seen her eating there. When they spoke to the temple authorities, they were told that Devi was introduced to them by a tea-stall owner.

The tea-stall owner revealed that Devi's father had a tea shop in the area 30 years ago, so he recommended her stay in the temple.

John next complained to the Thirumullavoiyal police station and the missing child case was reopened. John also handed over Devi's photograph and video to the police. After that he petitioned the city police commissioner and also the chief minister's cell which operates out of the state secretariat.

A week later, he got a call from the Thirumullaivoiyal police station saying that the CM's cell had taken an interest in his case. A week later, on February 2, 2023, Devi was arrested.

Now for the twist in the tale.

Devi revealed that she had the new-born with her for two years only and when she was arrested in a murder case she handed over the baby to the Villivakkam police station, in Chennai, in 2017. In 2021 Devi was acquitted in the murder case, but she never went back for the child.

The Thirumullaivoyal police went to the Villivakkam police and found out that the baby boy had been placed in the Bala Mandir Kamaraj trust in T Nagar, central Chennai.

They went to the trust home, where it was a eureka moment for the couple who saw their lost child after eight years.

Aaron had cleared his second standard exams and was going to the third standard. The Bala Mandir trust runs its own school with education in both Tamil and English.

Aaron was in the English medium school.

However, locating their long-lost son was not the end of the story. The police conducted a DNA test on the boy and the parents which proved that he was indeed their son. Even then the trust could not hand over the child without a court order.

John told the police that he was not rich enough to appoint an advocate. The police introduced him to M Hemavanth, and the good lawyer said John could pay him any amount and not worry about the money.

"I had Rs 2,000 in my pocket and I gave it to him though he was ready to do it for free," says John.

The advocate moved the Madras high court for the boy to be returned to his biological parents.

Giving a very humane and sensitive judgment, the court said, 'We agree that this is your son, but will he be comfortable with you in your home when all his life he has known only his trust home? You can visit him whenever you like, you can take him home also, but you can keep him with you for a couple of days only at a time, till he gets used to the idea.'

Since then the boy has been spending two days with his parents and two days at the orphanage.

Cut to the present.

When I met them in their humble home in Chennai, the mother, barely skin and bones, managed a big smile. And why not, all her three children were with her and they were a bundle of energy.

The house was just a tiny room on the second floor terrace and the roof was hardly a protection from the blazing May Sun. A ceiling fan was rotating helplessly, and a small table fan on the floor had better results.

The young daughter pulled out a bottle of cold water from the small fridge. The old-fashioned TV was on a cartoon channel which the kids were watching on mute.

As I sat on the only chair in the house, the kids wanted me to shoot their video.

I asked Aaron whether he liked this house or his hostel. He replied, "I like my hostel, I have lots of friends there." Here too he was playing with his siblings, but wanted to go back.

John said he would take him back the next day and then bring him back after two days. "The next court date is on June 13, 2023, I don't know what the court will decide."

Tamilarasi posed for a photograph with her three children: Aaron, Jebastine and Gnana Mary.

In Tamil Nadu every family gets free rice on their ration card and also a few other provisions. John Jebbaraj gets none of this because he does not have a ration card.

They may be poor, but hospitable they sure were.

"He is a quiet boy, well behaved, he has a lots of friends here with whom he grew up. At his age you cannot expect him to start calling someone daddy suddenly," says the superintendent at the Bala Mandir trust.

"It will take a while for him to accept them. Till then he is welcome to stay here as long as he likes."

"Even though the DNA matched, a court order is mandatory as the child has been in the trust home for many years," says Advocate Hemavanth. "The next court date is in June and I am sure the court will ask the parents to take him home permanently."

Hopefully the child will be back home, a home that is full of love and hope, soon.

Readers who wish to financially help Jebbaraj's family may please call him on +919092643677 (he speaks only Tamil).

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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