Readjusting their sights after a decade

Post-quake Gujarat

Readjusting their sights after a decade

The 2001 earthquake that reduced the old Mansi Towers to a rubble, killed Kalpana Gajjar’s husband and two teenaged children. Kalpana’s family was among the 20,000 who perished across the state in the devastating quake this very day a decade ago.

Kalpana had a providential escape when rescue teams pulled her out of the debris, after hours of struggle. Having taken a pounding, she survived the ordeal and later joined her sisters in London, but nothing was the same anymore. It was then that life came calling again.

“An acquaintance called up saying there was a man who was willing to marry me,’’ she recounts. The man, Amar Gupta, ran a business and, like Kalpana, had lost his entire family—wife and three children—in the earthquake. Gupta came to know of Kalpana from media reports and felt he could rebuild his broken life with her.

“We spoke about each other and decided to get married,’’ said Kalpana. Their relatives also supported the idea. They got married the same year and started a new beginning. According to Kalpana, they were able to understand each other’s trauma, since both had similar losses. They feel they have been saved individually so that they could live a life together.

Kalpana now works with a bank and Gupta manages his business. The couple now have an eight-year-old daughter, named Riddhi. Both Kalpana, whose first husband worked with Punjab National Bank, and Gupta were 40 when the killer earthquake struck Gujarat. The family now has a home in the new Mansi Towers, which has been reconstructed on the same location.

“Riddhi is aware of our previous families and she does console us when we realise the absence but she promises to fill the gap and bring back all the lost joy,’’ she said.

Kalpana is trying to put together her life, decking up the apartment the same way as it was before the deadly collapse. “Amar has been very supportive and when this flat was being reconstructed he left it to me on how it should be redesigned,’’ she said.

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