Optimistic about finding her son, Marie-Claire Talleu, is in India on her fourth trip, “He has always been a very quiet person with a deep interest in philosophy and spirituality; he can be in a monastery or an isolated village. He might have lost his memory in an accident and it is possible that a kind family adopted him,” she said.
The avid cyclist was on a world tour when he mysteriously disappeared in December 2007 after he set foot in India. “I got suspicious when he did not open an E card that I had sent him on his birthday, on 11th Dec, a week after his arrival in India. I got really worried when we didn’t hear from him on Christmas. We have tried to track the intended cycle path towards the south of India, but something might have happen to him and he could have never left Bombay, the last known place where he was traced [back to].” The last time Marie Claire spoke to her son from Dubai airport, he was looking forward to cycling through India and going to China to meet his sister.
After four years, the mother of seven said that finding Jean is the focus of her life. “India is a big country and when I walk in the streets of Mumbai I wonder if he too walked here. I look at each Indian wondering if he/she can recognize my son. I don’t want people to forget that he disappeared.”
Marie Claire accepts that it is not an easy task to find a missing person in a country as huge as India, “However, we are making an effort to ensure that people can recognize his face and know how to reach us,” she added. Over 10,000 pamphlets have been printed and distributed and a cash reward of Rs. two lakhs for the person who helps the family find their son.
Speaking of the emotional turmoil that the couple has been through since ‘Jean vanished’ Marie said, “The first time my husband came to India he was filled with anger because this is where his son disappeared but after few days we saw how friendly and helpful the people were… we have no grudges what so ever.”
The Mumbai police filed a missing person’s complain three months after Jean landed in Mumbai. However, there have never been any confirmed leads. Despite very few serious leads and exhausted resources, Jean-Baptiste’s mother is not giving up and is planning to visit every single place that her son might have visited. “The last unknown location was the Mumbai airport and then an ATM at Goregaon. We have had a few people call up to say that they saw someone like him in Varkala and Pondicherry so we have been visiting each one of those places as well,” she said.