There wasn't a dry eye

Five-year-old Pratham sat on a stone bench about 15 metres away from Sushmita’s house, in the safe custody of two adults, unfazed by the orgy of emotion around him.

A friend collapses outside Sushmita’s residence at RMV  Extension. dh photo/M S Manjunath

That Sushmita Patil had breathed her last on her way to a hospital minutes after a fatal accident the same morning was not the thought in his head. The place of crying and trauma was confined to Sushmita’s house in RMV Extension here––out of bounds for Pratham.

This was not the case for Shruti, his mother and Sushmita’s relative. She may not have been a close kin, but Sushmita’s ill-fate, at just 19, broke many walls in the family and in the neighbourhood. They were in full attendance. Some lending shoulders and some murmuring to themselves but all in utter disbelief.

Shruti was amid all this grief, not too audible, but apparent. The sorrowful silence would be punctuated occasionally by the sobbing of Sushmita’s friends.

The accident had caused minor dents on her face, cuts on the left cheek and her lower lip being most prominent. But they were not fatal injuries.

The macabre was hidden beneath the white gauze that covered the head post autopsy as she lay speechless entangled in garlands with ash all over her forehead.

“If not for the head injury she would have been with her friends, in a hospital, nursing non-fatal injuries,” one of the very few voices to be heard within the house. He was her father’s acquaintance.

Outside the house, the road––RMV Extension 8th cross––appeared too narrow to accomodate the uninterrupted flow of people. The family’s popularity only meant more vehicles.

Among the many affluent people, including IAS, IPS officers that paid their visits, an old Maruti-800, bearing the registration number KA-03 Z 9206 brought a sigh among the many family members there.

It was somebody they ‘could be themselves’ with. It was somebody they consulted when in trouble, Shivarudra Swami.

The soothing effect he had though, did not help everybody in grief. Just minutes after the pontiff’s entry, another 19-year-old collapsed beside a car outside Sushmita’s house.

She was one of her many friends from school, there to pay her respects. That it was a rather untimely one at that saw irrepressible feeling of sadness mark their faces, tears trickling down unconsiously.

Yet, they had managed to stand their ground. But not this girl. She was quickly given a sweet, some water and taken away in a car.

After this, none of them were seen that close to the house. They were in groups, they never left but it was too difficult to stay close to a place where their friend lay wrapped.

The small groups had their thoughts wavering. They did not want to blame Akhil who drove the car and was nursing spine and neck injury. He was their friend too. However, they could not help search for reasons for the accident. They could not digest the loss.

All that will be immaterial, the survivors, including Akhil, will miss their friend when they get back to college, they’ll find a seat empty in the car they use to pool in to go to college. But life goes on. And Sushmita’s friends agreed.

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