“WE hope the plane has been hijacked, then there is chance that mom will come back. My younger brother was also supposed to go with her, but changed his decision at the last moment,” said Rahul Shirsath (16), son of Kranti Shirsath, who was aboard the Malaysian Airways flight 370 that went missing on Saturday.
“My brother has been out of the country for long now. Kranti was going to North Korea for the last time as my brother’s contract with his company ends next month. Kranti was supposed to live with him for a month and then both were to return to Bhugaon, where they built a house,” says Sateesh Shirsath, brother of Pralhad Shirsath, Kranti’s husband. Kranti has two brothers and a sister.
Kranti’s house in Bhugaon was filled with neighbours and relatives on Sunday morning. Every time his phone rings, Sateesh’s hope soars. “We have not been able to contact Pralhad since morning. The communication is possible only from his side. He is in Beijing, and if any news comes, he will inform us,” Sateesh says.
Kranti, who hails from Beed, came to Pune after marriage in 1996. She worked as a chemistry lecturer in Eklavya Shikshan Sanstha’s Polytechnic College. “She is a brilliant student and her name was in the merit list of class 10 board exams. She is an inspiration to all of us and motivated us to study further,” said Dinesh Hange, Kranti’s brother. “Some sections of the local media have reported her dead. Our parents in Beed are very upset,” adds Hange.
“Mom had called me on Friday when she was boarding the flight to Kuala Lumpur from Mumbai. She told me to take care… that was the last time we spoke,” says Rahul. He has his second last exam of IT subject on Monday, but has hardly touched the books. “Once it is clear what happened to the plane, it will be easier to concentrate on studies,” he says.
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“Malaysian Airlines officials have been in touch with us; they are being very helpful. Even the Indian embassy has been in contact with us since Saturday. They have offered us help, including emergency passports in case we want to go to Beijing,” says Sateesh, who was the first person Pralhad called up on Saturday. “Pralhad drove to Beijing on Sunday morning. He is planning to leave for Malaysia in the evening.”
“We want the authorities to tell us whatever they know. The uncertainty is the hardest thing to endure. We want regular updates on the search and rescue operations,” says Kranti’s sister Jyoti Chamate, who teaches computer science in Government Polytechnic Pune.
Kranti’s other brother Ashok Hange, a lawyer based in Beed, says, “We still have hope as there are no confirmed reports on what happened. We have been seeing the reports on TV and Internet, and there is not one version of what happened.”
“Before she left for North Korea, she had come to meet us and our parents,” he says.