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'The dead have been forgotten'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
July 13, 2006 19:41 IST
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For many residents, Mumbai may have returned to normalcy. For those in mourning, life and the city will never be the same. Chief Correspondent Syed Firdaus Ashraf spent some time with one such bereaved family.

At 80, Godavari Thorat wants to bid Mumbai farewell. She can no longer bear to live in the city that took away Vishwas, her only son, on Tuesday.

A native of Pune, Godavari came to Mumbai in 1959 after her marriage to Anand Thorat. Back then, she says, it was a safe city. "There was sense of belonging and brotherhood. Today, there is no guarantee of life here."

A heart attack took away her husband in 1972, but Godavari stayed on with her two children -- Vishwas (then 8) and his elder sister Chitra. Chitra married and moved to Pune two years ago. Vishwas stayed unmarried, living with his mother for 34 years until July 11 brought his life to a halt.

"He served me more than any daughter-in-law could," says Godavari. "He cooked, washed clothes and kept the house clean. I can't believe he is no more." What upsets her more is that Vishwas died because he was on his way home to serve her dinner. "He was extremely punctual. He made sure I would have my medicines on time. Had he left the office late, he would have been alive today," she says.

Recalling that horrible Tuesday, she says she was initially hopeful her son would survive the attack. "He had met with accidents three times before. He was near Worli when the 1993 serial blasts occurred there, but was unharmed. I thought he would be lucky this time too. Even when he failed to come home, I expected to find his name on the list of injured, not the dead."

Her daughter Chitra Surendra Pawar arrived from Pune to take her mother back with her. "My tears don't stop," she says. "Vishwas was my support in times of crisis. I don't know where to go now."

Chitra believes Mumbai has turned into a heartless city. "No one bothers about the dead. All they care about is money. In two days, people are back to work. The dead have been forgotten. On Tuesday, it was my brother. Next time, it will be someone else."

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf