A Long Way Home: A Memoir
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As a little boy in India, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train. Twenty-five years later, from Australia, he found his way back. This is what happened in between.
Born in a poor village in India, Saroo lived hand-to-mouth in a one room hut with his mother and three siblings…until at age five, he mistakenly boarded a train by himself, and ended up in Calcutta, all the way across the country. Uneducated, illiterate, and unable to recall the name of his hometown, he managed to survive for weeks on that city’s rough streets.
Soon after, he was adopted by a couple in Tasmania. But despite growing up in a loving upper-middle class Aussie family, Saroo still clung to the last memories of his hometown and family in India, and always wondered if he’d ever find them again. Amazingly, twenty-five years later, with some dogged determination and a heap of luck—and the advent of Google Earth—he did.
A Long Way Home is a poignant and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds, celebrating the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.
people but also find a way out of where I was. That meant I needed to keep extremely alert going forward. I had to be wary—I was terrified of falling into the hands of someone like the railway worker again—but I also had to take an occasional chance if I felt someone could help me. I mustered up the courage to approach people a little more. At some point, walking along one of the streets of my new neighborhood, I came across a boy about the same age as me talking aloud to himself, or to the world
terrible place, I don’t think any of us wished ourselves back there. We didn’t talk about our past lives in India, but it seemed to me that each of them was as happy in their new homes as I was. Later the same year Mrs. Sood herself arrived in Hobart, escorting another new adoptee, Asha, whom I remembered from the orphanage. It made me happy to see Mrs. Sood again—she’d taken good care of us, and until I left India, she was probably the most friendly and trustworthy person I had met after
eventually he ended up in the care of ISSA and Mrs. Sood’s adoption agency, as I had. The legal process permitted orphans to live in an ISSA orphanage for two months while attempts were made to restore them to their family or arrange an adoption. Mrs. Sood was excited by the idea of placing Mantosh with the Brierleys so we would become brothers. But Mantosh didn’t enjoy the same smooth process of adoption as I had. Because he did have parents, even though he couldn’t return to them—his mother’s
if a little illogically, replied, “You take me there and I’ll show you. I know the way.” Saying aloud the name of my home for the first time since arriving in Australia was like opening a release valve. Soon after that, I told an even more complete version of events to a teacher I liked at school. For over an hour and a half, she wrote notes, too, with that same amazed expression. Strange as I found Australia, for Mum and my teacher, hearing me talk about India must have been like trying to
the religions didn’t mix, and neither did the people. When we moved to our new house, we all carried everything we owned, which was only some crockery and bedding. I cradled in my arms small items such as a rolling pin and light pots and pans. I was excited about being in a new place, although I didn’t really know what was happening. At that point I didn’t understand what religion was. I just saw Muslims as people who wore different garments than Hindus; the men dressed all in white and some had