On July 11, 2006, a bomb blast in a train at Khar took away Central Excise employee Dhiraj Rathod's right arm and ear.
Devastated, Rathod's dream of educating his two daughters — Priyanka, 12, and Jignyasha, 11 — came crashing down.
"I had no savings. I thought my daughters’s future was ruined," said 54-year-old Rathod, who used to earn Rs 20,000 before the tragedy struck.
But fate gave with one hand what it took with the other. An HT report on Rathod's plight prompted Joe Rajan, CEO of a travel firm, to sponsor the girls's education till Class 10. And today, Priyanka and Jignyasha have excelled in their exams.
Priyanka, a Class 7 student of St Anne's School, Borivli has scored 80 per cent in her final exams. Jignyasha has passed first level of the of Homi Bhabha scholarship exam and scored well in her final exams too.
With Rathod making regular rounds of the hospital and his wife accompanying him, it was an uphill task for the children to manage on their own. "We were usually alone at home. Dad's condition worried us, but we didn't let it affect our studies," said Priyanka. "We thought we should study and make our parents proud. We did have problems, but we struggled hard because we wanted to see our parents happy," added Jignyasha.
Last Tuesday, Rathod recieved a second cheque of Rs 15,000 from Rajan for the girls' education.
Rathod, who will soon rejoin his job said, "Life has not been the same. I have become dependant and have to be watched over at all times." He added, with a smile brightening his face, "I am grateful to Rajan. After spending lakhs on medication and surgeries, it would have been difficult to pay for my daughters’ studies.”