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Kullu Tragedy: From a Mother’s heart…

June 11, 2014

Saw this video just a few moments earlier – 24 Engineering college students from Hyderabad on excursion to Kullu-Manali washed down river Beas, all because of ‘chalta hai’ attitude of the concerned officials who failed to comply with the protocol of announcing to the villagers in the surrounding areas in advance if and when water would be released from the Larji Hydel Project.  A complete failure of the system took away the precious lives of 2 dozen promising youngsters, robbing their homes of sunshine forever.

Cried out seeing the kids being washed away – all of my son’s age.  Wanted to blog about this day before yesterday, but the mother in me did not want to think about anything inauspicious because my son commenced his internship here recently, a big move for him in his life – like sort of a first step. Like for last 1 week, did not even want to ponder over something negative – this is blissful, precious family time for us. Bereavement of this kind like the Kullu tragedy is beyond me – numbs me instantly, totally.  Never dwell on these subjects for long – in fact switched off ‘My name is Khan’ right at the point when Kajol loses her son in the film, unable to go on. To that extent, my heart is fragile…

So I can understand what it will be for the parents who have lost their kids. For women like me, life has no meaning without our children.  My heart will burst to a 1000 pieces should my baby come to any harm  …God forbid …  i won’t live even for a second that much I know… No words to console the parents…

Have this frequent argument with my son always.  He wants to attend concerts in Bangalore – the last he attended was ‘Swedish Mafia’ I guess.  I do not even know the names.  10 boys and 5 girls go up to Bangalore and once after the concert got over after a delayed start, they missed the train and took a private van to travel back to Chennai at night.  Now I am strictly against this night travel – our highways are highly unsafe I know and our drivers prone to drunken driving. A group of 10 young boys and 5 teenage girls on the road in the pitch black of night  is like inviting trouble.

The whole night alone at home, not a wink of sleep for me.  The boys stopped at girls’ places first and from there, a girl’s mom drove my son home at exact 4 am. (Bangalore is 4-5 hours from Chennai.  One straight highway right from my home actually NH 4 I guess). Leave alone the boys, what about the safety of these young girls. Are our boys heroes to go protect the girls.  Is that what I am raising my son for, to foolishly defend a girl against a group of rowdies, just in case, risking his own life in the process. The more heroic my son sounds, the more desperate I get as mom to protect my baby, trying to infuse some sense into his brains…

For 2 days I did not speak to my son – now I have extracted promise that he would not visit Bangalore again for concerts any more with his friends until atleast he finishes college.  The booze in pubs, the typical teenage shenanigans are my last concern.  The boys are still kids. What do they know about the rash outside world. They think they are ready, but they are not.  Not yet.

There is no excursion (sponsored by management) for the same reason in my son’s college.  But the boys are arranging one of their own.  So now I have another headache coming up.  In the next couple of months I know what to expect and what I must be prepared for. My boy calls me ‘terror mom’ – but that hardly disconcerts me. I extract promise from my boy as to never to go for swimming in seas or rivers – against the current, and also in strange/unknown/new swimming pools, without parents’ knowledge.

My boy dashed his car against a black colour road-roller (engaged in Metro Rail work) parked haphazardly in a city street in heavy monsoon rains last September. The time was 11 pm and it had been pouring for continuous 2 hours, with visibility zero, and whole area flooded.  Both of us parents (from both Chennai & Doha) called our son asking him SPECIFICALLY not to drive back home (he was doing group studies in his friend’s place). But youth are brash as we know.  He did and met with this major accident. The airbags came out – can’t explain what we parents went through.  The front side of the car was totally smashed – a brand new Honda Brio. The money, the insurance is the last thing in our minds…  The safety of our baby is what we are concerned of most.  Which is why I refused a motor bike to my son but had to give in to car once he turned 18.  Very difficult to control this generation.  Thank god, the airbags protected my son and his friend in the passenger seat.  They escaped unhurt.

That night I was alone at home – the mental agony we parents have to endure because of the reckless activities of our kids…  It was good that my MIL was away because she has no mental strength to bear shocking news anymore.  I worry about her heart.

Never had to step into a police station before – none from both sides of families have done that for generations … but I had to for the sake of my son. Because of the car accident.  I asked a male friend to give me company.  Never shared the news with relatives. As the car is registered in my name and I hold a driver’s licence , I took the responsibility and saw to that my son’s name did not figure in any official records. Will do anything for him … he is my world…  I hope our children realize that.  Parental love is unconditional.

The toughest job was to delicately balance and project the incident (or rather the accident) in a way not to scare away or discourage my son from venturing into anything on his own in future, and at the same time instill some sense of caution and responsibility in his young, fertile brains.  Not easy, don’t ask me.  I think these are the defining moments of our parenthood.   We have to draw the line somewhere yet see to that our children do not panic and chicken out thanks to our over-protection.

As a parent one thing I would never want to do is BREAK THE CONFIDENCE OR CRUSH THE SPIRIT in my son.  Still I cannot fathom out, what made this group of 24 young boys and girls to venture right into the course of the river in fading evening light.  This is sheer madness.  Quite possible when they go out in groups without parental/adult supervision.

God give strength to the parents of the 24 kids to go on….  I don’t think they can ever recover… Talked about the tragedy to my son. He is quiet, tired from working for the first time in his life.  He is suddenly the adult, no more my little baby, getting the feel of what really life is all about…. But he is thinking which is a good sign.

He has some more years of studies ahead of him – and we do not know where destiny will take him…  My advice to my boy always is,  ‘do not dare, do not go near water bodies, do not drive late at night, do not booze, do not touch or try once cigarettes or drugs even for fun, girls can wait, etc., etc…’

About girls I say, ‘the girl gotto be atleast 1 day younger than you, never go against nature, and never a christian or a muslim, only a hindu!’  (i insist on the same faith for comfort and compatibility factor first.  we want peace in our lives first, not conflict at every turn of life).

My list is too very long and specific – i am open about what I want for my son because I hope he will atleast respect a few of my wishes if not all.  Keep checking on him every now and then that even my friends keep teasing me about.  My son is my complete responsibility until his wife comes in and takes over from me…

Whatever we parents say, it is for the benefit of our children.  What else is there for us in our lives.

North India is so reckless – they do not adhere to rules and regulations there.  Law and order has no meaning. See the Himachal Pradesh govt is not even taking responsibility for the tragedy.  And even if it does, will that bring back the kids…

Stay safe GenNext, you are all we have got in life, what else.  It is not easy any more to raise children the way we have done.  Raising children is by itself a tough task these days.

A doctor (gynaec) told us recently, we the 60s’ children are perhaps the last and best generation to produce healthiest kids – physically and mentally. Somewhere in the 1990s, the world changed for the worst, India included.  Our present younger generation, product of the 60s crop, is a precious gift that India has to unravel and enjoy with pleasure in future…  They are the wealth of this nation…

My best investment in life is my son, what else.  The very meaning of my life is my son, what else.

What a terrific loss this Kullu tragedy means to not only the parents, but to Hyderabad, to Indian nation. My heart feels like bursting … one moment they are there, the next moment gone…  this is absolutely preventable and that’s what gets me so enraged… the administration has failed, the kids are too very daring and reckless … Oh what a terrible tragedy.

So much of heart-breaking miseries all around us… what has the world come to.


PS:  A friend’s son met with motorbike accident on his return from New Year Eve’s party.  Brain injury – in coma for 2 months.  Pulse down and was brought clinically dead to GH.  But the family transferred him to No.1 private hospital and miraculously revived him. Finally he is ok but still is undergoing physiotherapy.  Lost one complete semester at college, but that is parents’ least worry.  Let our children remain our sons and daughters to us first – let them outlive us please cannot even think of the converse.  After a serious of brain surgeries, the boy has regained complete memory and his motor movements are improving day by day, thank God.

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