(Featured photo courtesy of Sideonetrackone)
By Sophia Kapur (’18)
Plucked from a childhood spent scampering barefoot through dusty streets and placed in a home within earshot of crashing waves on Australian sand, Saroo Brierley couldn’t have felt further from home. The thoughts flooding his mind each night were filled with memories of his mother, brothers, and sister- who, he believed, were persistently searching for him in his home village in India, on the other side of the world.
Based on a true story, the drama film “Lion” opens with five-year-old Saroo convincing his older brother Guddu to let him tag along on a routine trip to the train station, with the goal of scavenging for dropped coins and scraps of food. Guddu reluctantly lets his younger brother come with him, regretting his decision when Saroo grew tired with nightfall. After falling asleep on a bench by the train, Saroo awakens with his older brother was nowhere to be found. Sleepily, he wanders onto the closest train to continue his search. Little did he know, this was the start of a search that would consume him for the next 20 years.
The empty train traveled for days on end, delivering the terrified lone passenger, Saroo, to Kolkata. Here, he attempted to explain his situation to those around him, but he was dismissed as just another slum child. Eventually, he was taken into the care of a home for abandoned kids, where an adoption agency contacted him. A couple in Australia wanted him to be their son.
Although he grew to love his adoptive parents unconditionally, he suppressed sharing something with them. He had been spending his nights searching Google Earth for familiar signs of home within the radius of what the train could have traveled based on how long he was on board. Guilt filled Saroo, for he did not want to be ungrateful for the privileged life he had been handed.
I highly recommend seeing “Lion”. In the span of its two-hour running time, the audience is exposed to the world in a remarkably realistic way. Anything we can experience to help understand what others around the world are facing helps introduce a more globally-conscious, grateful mindset. During the movie, viewers can’t help but root for Saroo, a representation of the 80,000 kids that go missing in India each year.