A woman in the Indian town of Kerala who went missing 11 years ago was recently found living just 500 meters from her parent’s home, in the house of a man she had fallen in love with.

Sajitha left her family home in 2010 and hadn’t been seen since then, but unknown to her family she was not far from home.

Her family had given up hope of ever finding her, after she simply walked out of the house one day, and never came back. Thinking that she had died or was living thousands of miles away somewhere, they never even entertained the idea that she could be in the same village, let alone in walking distance from them.

As it turns out, the woman, who was 18 at the time of her disappearance, simply walked out of the family home and into that of her secret lover, a local man who she was convinced her parents wouldn’t approve of.

The young woman didn’t leave any clues when she left her family home, didn’t carry a phone and police couldn’t really provide any real assistance. Her parents didn’t suspect a romantic affair with someone so close to them, as it takes two to elope and there was no one else missing from Ayalur village, in Kerala.

Sajitha was only discovered earlier this month after her 34-year-old lover, Alinchuvattil Rahman suddenly disappeared from his family home three months ago, and his family notified the police. His brother Basheer happened to notice him on the side of the road one day, and managed to follow him to a house in a neighboring village, which he had rented with Sajitha.

Police took the couple before a local court, which allowed them to legally live together after hearing their story. Apparently, the two come from two different religions and were sure that their families wouldn’t approve of their love, so they decide to be together in secret.

“Their story sounds unusual, but we took the couple to Rahman’s house and they told us how Sajitha had lived secretly in a single room for all these years,” Nenmara Police Station House Officer Deepa Kumar A told the Indian Express.

Rahman’s family reportedly also didn’t know about her presence in their home either. The young man, who works as a house painter, allegedly had a separate room that he kept under lock and key, so no one else could get in. Since he got angry if anyone even asked about his room, his parents never really bothered him about it.

“Sometimes he behaved like a mentally deranged person, would turn violent if someone tried to get into his room.

“He would even take his food in to eat… During the day, as everyone was at work, Rahman and Sajitha would have the house to themselves,” the man’s bother, Basheer said.

Rahman’s room didn’t have its own bathroom, so he had the metal bars on its window sawed off when she moved in, so she could sneak out to use the toilet at night or when his parents, who work as daily wagers, were away. She even washed and dried her clothes in the same tiny room. Sajitha apparently kept herself entertained by watching a small TV with earphones on.

According to Rahman’s neighbors, he always kept to himself, was very secretive, so some of them thought he had mental issues. He apparently eloped with his beloved three months ago, after his family started pressuring him about an arranged marriage. He never objected, to avoid suspicion, but always avoided the subject.

When Sajitha was discovered, most of the locals in the village were shocked as they had almost forgotten all about her.

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