Meera Sahani, a mother of three, was stunned when she heard her husband Manohar was shot dead at the CST railway station on November 26. 2008.
Meera, 31, now works as an aayah in the Indian Railways’ medical department. Manohar, a sand digger, was among the scores killed at CST. What was worse, his family never found his body.
“Another family mistook my husband’s body for their kin and cremated him. We got to know later when the details we furnished at the morgue matched with a body they had dispatched. We cremated an effigy of my husband and made peace,” says Meera, in her one-room rented accommodation off the Cantonment Railway Station in Varanasi.
Meera and her children have a stoic calm about them. Meera says she does not think about her husband or the tragedy that befell her much. Her eldest daughter Manju (15) says, “Mother does not bring up father much. I also have very faint memories of him because I was only six at the time and we were in the village but he was always away at work. We do not discuss father.”
Meera has her hands full, cooking and caring for her three children and sending them to school before going to work at the Divisional Railway Hospital. For a woman who had never stepped out of the village in Ballia district UP, even with her husband, Meera says the biggest decision for her was to choose to work and shift to Varanasi. Her youngest child Neha was then only a few months old.
“I took time learning the ways of the hospital. Seeing sickness all around was a new thing for me. I began eating non-veg to improve my immunity,” she says.
Meera found a friend and a pillar of strength in her colleague Guddi whose husband Mishrilal Maurya was also killed in the attacks that night. Their shared loss brought them together and gave them each other’s friendship and support.
“Guddi and I go to work together and our children are all like brothers and sisters. Both families go for outings together. It makes us forget the loneliness and the fact that we do not have husbands to complete our family,” Meera says.
Meera’s children have been working hard at school. Neha, the youngest, now nine years old, just won a gold medal in sports. Manju aims to be a doctor or an artist because she says she loves drawing while her brother Sonu (12) wants to be scientist.
Manju says, “At parent teacher meetings, my mother goes. But many a times I ask my friends what their result is and they say they have not got their report card yet because their father was away at work and their mother could not come to school because they have never stepped out of their homes and out into the world.”
“Those who ruin others’ lives and kill, what do they know about losing a loved one. How much does the family they leave behind struggle to move on?” Manju adds.