If life hadn’t been so tragic, it would have been the perfect family portrait: man, woman, and two beaming children. The cynosure of all eyes and much cooing is nine-month-old Tanvi. As she clambers on to her father’s prosthetic leg, the toddler is blissfully unaware that her birth has been invested with meaning that goes far beyond herself. “This is Karan,” says Diksha, her 14-year-old sister.
Karan was Diksha’s younger brother who made the fatal mistake of wanting to look like his favourite movie star, John Abraham in Dhoom. On October 29, 2005, he went with Diksha and his father to buy ‘Dhoom’ shoes from Sarojini Nagar. He paid for his hero worship with his life. His father, Vinod, lost a leg and Diksha was badly burnt, her bones splintered. <b1>
Smiles returned to the Poddar home only when a Bollywood-style ‘reincarnation’ plot began playing out with Tanvi’s birth last August. “She looks just like Karan did at her age,” says Vinod, pointing towards two strikingly similar photos of the two taken at six months. “She doesn’t like my scooter, but my brother’s car — just like Karan,” he adds indulgently, even as Tanvi focusses her attention on grabbing her uncle’s car keys. “My family feels complete now. We don’t feel Karan is away from us — although we still miss him in the form we knew him,” says her mother, Indu.
The last few months have seen a phoenix-from-the-ashes act at the Poddars. “This is a new life,” says Vinod. He let go of his crutches the day Tanvi was born, and now drives a scooter all over town. “When one stands again after falling down, it feels good,” he says.
Vinod now has a tag to shed — that of being the face of tragedy on every TV channel after every blast — something that losing his son has ‘qualified’ him for. “I didn’t raise my son to be killed by terrorists…,” he says, his voice trailing off, as he remembers the day that changed his life forever.