“Until I see my son’s body, he is alive for me,” said Deepali Pashte, whose weekend has ended in tragedy after her 15year-old son, Jitesh, drowned off Aksa beach when he went swimming with his friends on Sunday afternoon.
Jitesh, a Class 9 student of Fatima High School, Malad, lived with his father Duttaram Pashte, mother and younger brother in Nivetia Compound Colony in Malad (east), as did his eight friends with whom he went to the beach.
Of the nine teenagers who entered the sea around 2pm, three drowned.
Their bodies had not been traced till late evening.
Twelve-year-old Mayur Gaikwad’s father Balram too cannot fathom the loss.
“I believe my son will be found. My son is full of life and is good at studies,” Balram said.
Pashte is upset with herself as she had called Jitesh for lunch. “I called him home for lunch but he was playing and I got busy. I wish I had stopped him from going. I did not know about their plans to go to the beach,” she said.
None of the parents had known that the nine youngsters, all Class 8 and 9 students, were planning to go to the beach. Aarti More, mother of Atul, one of the survivors, said the boys did not inform parents and went on cycles and BEST buses.
Atul can’t believe that three of his friends are no more. “Three of us went ahead to swim and by the time we realised that the currents were strong, they had vanished,” Atul said.
The six teenagers heard cries of their friends, but they could not locate them and called the police control room, which alerted lifeguards, who were on the other side of the beach where there was a crowd.
Vinod Shelar, a corporator from Malad, said the children were warned by vendors against swimming. “We need more lifeguards on the stretch,” he said.