Kerala: Muslim woman’s Hindu children inspire an Indian film

A new film on a Muslim woman from the southern Indian state of Kerala who raised three Hindu children has brought attention to the family’s unusual story. BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi spoke to the siblings who inspired the film.

When Jafferkhan first watched Ennu Swantham Sreedharan (Yours Truly, Sreedharan), he says he was moved to tears. But it was his brother Sreedharan, sitting next to him at the screening, who ended up “crying uncontrollably”.

Jafferkhan and Sreedharan, both of whom use only one name and are 49 years old, are not biologically related – Jafferkhan is a Muslim and Sreedharan is a Hindu. But ask Jafferkhan what Sreedharan means to him and he says: “He is a brother. No, he is much more than that. He is always around me. I don’t know who he is… he is a saathi [companion].

The woman who brought them together – Jafferkhan’s mother, Thennadan Subaida – died in 2019. Her story, a heart-warming reminder of humanity triumphing over religious differences, has found resonance at a time when tales of polarisation and communal disharmony are regularly reported in India.

Subaida took in Mr Sreedharan and his two older sisters – Ramani and Leela – in 1976 after their mother died while giving birth to a fourth child who also didn’t survive. The children’s mother, Chakki, was a domestic worker in Subaida’s house. The brothers say that Subaida did not legally adopt the children as the laws around it were not as strict at the time. ..


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