For 23-year-old Rynell Abraham Varghese, the past nine years have done little to ease the pain but older brother Wesley always gives him courage.
For a very long time, the brothers wanted to join the Indian Army after what happened to their father — Thomas Varghese, a senior waiter in the Taj’s Japanese restaurant Wasabi, was shot dead by terrorists on November 26, 2008.
“When my father was around, he would often say: ‘I am not going to be there always with you. You have to take care of yourself.’ After his death, my brother stepped up and took care of the family,” Rynell said.
Then 14, Rynell was watching a match on TV on November 26, 2008, when he heard about the attacks at Taj. When Wesley got through to their father on the phone after several attempts, Thomas assured them that he would be home by 5am, his usual shift timing.
It was only the next afternoon that the family found out from a Malayalam news channel that Thomas was shot while trying to evacuate guests through a service exit.
“He had come out safe from the train blasts in 2006. I was sure that he would return this time but he didn’t,” said Rynell.
In January this year, Rynell moved to Sydney to pursue his passion: cooking. Both brothers were persuaded to abandon the idea of joining the army by their mother Sunu, who is now working at the Taj. Wesley works as a male nurse in Bahrain.
“My mother was completely against the idea of us joining the army. Gradually I started developing a passion for cooking and my brother encouraged me to pursue it as a career,” said Rynell, who is studying to be a chef and working as a cook at an Indian restaurant in Sydney. Far from his family, Rynell misses his father more.
The loss of his father has made Rynell see his family in a new light: the mother, who was a homemaker, has assumed the responsibilities of being the breadwinner; the brother has taken over as the father figure of the house.
“I never knew my mother was so strong. My mother and brother have made me whatever I am today. They are the pillars of the family,” said Rynell.
The family still feels hurt over the incident and this time of the year is difficult. “No one has the authority to decide someone else’s fate. For me that is difficult to accept but sometimes you are forced to accept a situation that you don’t want to,” said Rynell.