It is February 25 , 2011 today. 15 years back on this very date [ February 25 , 1996 ], my elder son Nitin Chaturvedi died.
Some where in between Vasai and Borivli , he fell from the running local train and lost his life.
In those days of extremely harsh and hard struggle, I used to leave my Shree Prastha flat at Nalla Sopara , very early in the morning and used to take 11.00 P.M. train in the night for the return journey.
On the day of my son’s death, I was at home and was taking my afternoon nap , which I rarely do. I was not feeling well that day. So he pressed my legs for some time and started getting ready for his college. I was sleepy. I saw glimpse of his face while he was closing the main door of the flat. That was the last glimpse of his face, which I could see and that glimpse still lingers in the dark , gloomy and lonely corridors of my heart without any obfuscation.
After his departure, I went to sleep. I was fast asleep . There was a knock at the door at around 2.00 P.M. Woken from my slumber I opened the door. There was a police man standing there with my son’s college I.Card. He told me to come with him to the Bhagwati Hospital, Borivli. Strangely , I felt nothing, sensed nothing and like an enchanted person followed him. We took local train from Nalla Sopara and reached Bhagwati Hospital, Borivli. He started escorting me to the morgue. Still I was numb and could not sense anything.
An attendant opened the door of the morgue and then I saw my son’s dead body lying on a stretcher in a pool of blood. His eyes were half closed , half-open. His fair face was full of dust. Fresh , thick sheet of blood was clearly visible beneath his bruised body. Again I couldn’t feel anything at that moment. Today when I analyze, I realize that I became numb at that moment.
I returned to Nalla Sopara. My wife had sensed the death and she was crying profusely. All the neighbours had gathered and were trying to console her. Before I could reach Nalla Sopara, Mr. Kishore Namit Kapoor was there with all the students of the current batch.
My Keralite neighbour took charge of my two other sons. We returned to Bhagwati Hospital to claim the body. After post mortem and other formalities we again came to Nalla Sopara with the body. Next day we cremated the body.
I don’t want to go into the graphic details of the following days. But one thing I would never forget that when this incident happened , I had only 50 rupees and that too in coins. I had no money for hospital expenses, no money for post mortem fees and for the expenses of cremation. Mr. Kishore Namit Kapoor was gracious and kind enough to give me Rs. 20,000.00 [ Rs. Twenty Thousand ]. With his help I was able to perform last rights of my son.
After this we went to Deoria, my native place , for other rituals of shraddha.
When I returned from my native place and asked Mr. Kishore Namit Kapoor about repayment of the money, he refused to take back the money. I would never forget this gesture as long as I am alive.
Today when I am writing this blog , I am not ashamed but I am pained to remember my economic condition. In those days of penury and destitution, I could barely manage two square meals for my family. My son was fond of good food , good clothes and I was unable to provide that. Few days before his death, he was craving for bread and butter and I was unable to buy even Modern bread. Cost of Modern bread in those days was not more than 2.00 or 3.00 rupees. But I couldn’t afford even that and since I couldn’t buy bread, every night I used to cook up one new story .
He wanted to watch Jurassic Park, which was being screened at Sterling. I couldn’t take him to Sterling because train fare from Nalla Sopara to Churchgate and then price of the ticket at Sterling for me , my wife and three children , was beyond my capacity.
It was his destiny to die young. [ He celebrated his 16th birthday on 21st February, only 4 days before his death. ] But I am saddened because I could father 3 sons and was unable to provide them even basic amenities of life. I am not ashamed of my penury and destitution. But I feel guilty that I was unable to fulfill their basic needs.
It is 15 years today since he is gone. Funeral pyre, which I lit on that fateful day consumed my son’s body but it refuses to get extinguished even now. It is still burning in the inner , dark and gloomy corridors of my psyche and burning me along with my guilt. It is a 15 year-long funeral, which refuses to end.
It seems today that barring my wife, every one in the family, all the relatives have forgotten him completely. I think no one remembers him.My two sons were too young to remember even his face. Slowly he is becoming just a portrait on the wall.
I am a firm believer in re-birth. I do believe that my son’s unsatisfied soul must have taken birth.in a new family and definitely in a wealthy family. In his new birth , sitting in the lap of his immensely rich father , he must be enjoying all the pleasantries of life, which he used to wish and I was unable to provide.
And I am sure, he is totally oblivious of the fact that his poor parents still remember him fondly.
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA