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Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, December 29, 2010
Hours after businessman Nikhil Kamdar’s (38) life was snuffed out by a falling tree at Andheri on Monday, his daughter Ariya (6), unable to fathom that her father was no more, repeatedly asked her mother to phone him and ask when he would come home. As Ariya asked for her father, it wasn’t lost on the family that had Nikhil not been speaking on the phone when the tree fell he might still be alive today.

Nikhil, who was waiting outside the K West ward office for his brother Ashish, was talking animatedly on the phone when the tree began to keel over. One of his neighbours, who requested anonymity, said: “Witnesses told us that as they heard sounds of the wood cracking, they shouted out to Nikhil. They warned him to move from the spot, but he couldn’t hear anybody as he was too involved in the phone conversation.”

A branch of the tamarind tree, located inside a Parsi colony, fell on Kamdar’s head, crushing it.

Nikhil’s standing at that spot was also a cruel twist of fate. “Nikhil and Ashish spoke about who should go into the ward office to complete paperwork related to business licences. Asish volunteered to wait outside, but Nikhil said he would wait. Had Nikhil gone in, he would have been alive today,” said the neighbour.

Another neighbour, Vinod Shah, said: “Nikhil was courteous and socially active. Just a day before his death, we were discussing the plan for our building’s New Year party.”

Nikhil lived with his wife and Ariya, while his mother, Ashish and his family lived in another flat in the same building at Navin Nagar, a middle-class neighbourhood in Santacruz (W).

Theirs is a traditional business family. “The brothers were electrical hardware suppliers, while their late father was a pen manufacturer,” said a relative.

“Nikhil was doing well and wanted to grow his business. Now it seems as if it happened in a different era,” he added.