No Diwali celebrations for 11/7 survivors

Diwali will not be the same for 11/7 survivors but it will definitely be celebrated, writes Jyoti Shelar and Megha Sood.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2006 21:26 IST

"Paisa kaha hai tyohar mananeko" (Where is the money to celebrate the festival?), asks Shivkumar Sharma, resident of Malad, who was injured in the train blast at Mahim on that fateful day of July 11.

As I ask him questions, his wife Prabha repeats them to Sharma in a louder voice. Sharma who suffered from acute hearing loss in the blast apart from hurting his right arm and head severely, is the only bread winner in his family of six including him. However, Shrama has not visited his spot welding factory in Girgaum after the tragic day. "There is no income since I have stopped going to the factory. We have been using the little bit of money I had saved for treatment and daily living", says Sharma (48) adding that he was discharged from the KEM Hospital in August but he is not yet completely healed.

Apart from routines like having Laxmi pujan, cleaning the house, the essence of Diwali every year in the Sharma family was buying new clothes, lots of crackers and jewellery on the auspicious occasions. "Our four sons are all still studying therefore buying crackers in bulk was a ritual every year. Apart from this, new clothes and if possible we purchased gold or silver items. However this year we are just going to have Laxmi puja", says Prabha (47), in a gloomy tone. "We are going to offer prayers with all our heart this year since my husband is alright", she adds.

While Sharma plans to get back to work after Diwali, he is upset to board the local train once again. "Even now the Diwali crackers upset me. My mind recalls that ill-fated day. I wonder how I will manage to board the train once again", says Sharma, who has not got out his house since he came home after being discharged.

Even as the Sharma's decide to celebrate a low profile Diwali with least expenditure, it is one of the most important Diwali for them. "This will be our most biggest Diwali, celebrated heartily as my father is with me and my family", says Girish (19), Sharma's elder son who studying hotel management.

Diwali will not be the same again for the Chavan family but the festival will definitely be celebrated. Chirag Chavan like other youngsters is not into bursting crackers but is surely looking forward to celebrate Diwali with his family members.

"I surely will do the Diwali pujan with all my heart to thank you to God as it is with the grace of God that I am alive today after the dreadful 11/7 train blasts that paralysed me," said Chavan who is suffering from paraplegia (backbone injury).

Chavan, whose backbone had been injured in the blast is very excited about the festival of lights and is waiting to do the Diwali puja as he would be doing it along with his mother and elder sister like every year. "Though we do not burst crackers the Diwali puja is done with faith and this year my mother is the most excited as she can see me alive and laughing," added the 21-year-old Inter CA student. Sitting on the Otto Bock donated B-500 wheelchair Chavan can now roam in the nearby areas but still has not lost the hope of walking like before.

"My mother always encourages me to look forward in life and constantly reminds me that it is just matter of time and everything would be fine again. Laxmi pujan this year would be no different than every year," claims Chavan. He adds, "Money is no problem although we have already spent a lot on my treatment but still we would prefer a discrete Diwali,"

"Diwali abhi bhi ek tyohar ki terah manainge," (This year too we will celebrate Diwali like a festival) said Chavan with a smile.

First Published: Oct 19, 2006 21:26 IST