by Aditi Sharma for Mumbai Mirror
Mumbai, July 31: Searching for a 35-year-old brother does not sound like a daunting task unless there is a possibility that he may have lost his memory and you have to deal with people who take advantage of your predicament to make a quick buck.
Louella Menezes has been duped by a detective and nearly conned by a woman claiming to be from the CID in her nearly-one-year search for Paul Fernandez, who went missing in September 2005 from his home in Nalasopara.
‘PAUL WAS DEPRESSED’
Paul was working in a cruise ship. He had been suffering from depression from some time and was on medication. “He had suffered memory loss on a couple of occasions and gave up his job because of this problem,” says Menezes.
When their mother Maria suffered a paralytic stroke, she had to be hospitalised. While she was recuperating, Paul went missing on September 15, 2005, from his home in Nalasopara.
“When my mother was hospitalised, he was alone at home. He was very close to her and must’ve been depressed by her illness, which may have resulted in memory loss,” says Menezes, who works in the marketing and sales department of a private company in Andheri and is three years older to Paul.
The family lodged a complaint with the Nalasopara police, but Paul could not be traced.
A fortnight later, Maria expired after suffering a massive paralytic stroke. “My mother’s only wish when she died was to find Paul and make sure he is safe,” says Menezes, who lives in Andheri.
The search takes up all of her free time.
She regularly visits all municipal hospitals, morgues, mental asylums and destitute homes. On weekends, she visits beggar’s homes, hospitals, churches and follows up any lead about his whereabouts. Since Paul never missed mass at the local church, she had distributed pamphlets at all churches between Vasai and Virar.
THE BAD DAYS
“Just after Paul went missing, we approached a detective. But he turned out to be a crook. After taking half his payment — Rs 7,500 — he vanished.”
Then, a woman posing as a CID inspector claimed to know Paul’s whereabouts. “I was desperate for any kind of information and even agreed to pay her Rs 25,000. But then we came to know that she is a conwoman.”
Nevertheless, Menezes went to Alibaug to check out some claims made by the conwoman.
THE GOOD DAYS
In December 2005, she visited a church in Colaba. “I came to know of a lady who had seen and even spoken to my brother near the church. She told me that he had lost a lot of weight and had grown a beard, but didn’t remember anything about himself,” says Menezes.
In April this year, she urged the police to again send out wireless messages about her missing brother.
WON’T GIVE UP
These experiences have failed to deter Menezes. She holds on to any and every information that comes her way. In fact, she is now planning a trip to Ahmedabad.
“An astrologer I met assured me that Paul is alive and suggested I look in Ahmedabad,” says Menezes adding, “Paul is vulnerable because he doesn’t remember a thing. I just hope that he will get his memory back soon and returns home.”