Nivedita Shinde still writes letters to her father, nine years after he died, often signing off with an “I love you, dad”. Nivedita, 23, lost her father Shashank Shinde, then senior police inspector with the Government Railway Police (GRP), at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on November 26, 2008.
“I write a letter to him on his birthday every year, and on Father’s Day. In these letters I express everything that I am feeling and I tell him about what’s happening in our lives. It is the only way I have to communicate with him,” she says.
Nivedita was 14 at the time of the attacks and recalls in detail how the incident affected her teenage years and her life in school. “When my friends would talk about their fathers, I would imagine how different things would have been had he been here to support us. I would visualise him being proud of my achievements. That’s when I started writing letters to him, to vent what I felt,” she says.
Nivedita is now employed as an assistant commissioner in the GST department, Maharashtra government. The family is busy with preparations for her elder sister Aditi’s wedding, scheduled for November 23. Their mother Manasi, who worked with the Life Insurance Corporation of India at its Nariman Point office till 2014, is looking forward to the celebrations.
For the daughters, the lasting impact of the attacks was the absence of a male and a father figure at home. “Daughters are close to their fathers and we did not have him when we were growing up. We also often felt the absence of a man in the house. Even small incidents, such as putting up Diwali lights, fixing a light bulb, which our father would regularly do, made us realise again that we are all by ourselves,” Nivedita adds.
The only male at the Shinde home is now Spark, their pug.
Nivedita sees her father as the world’s bravest person, who rushed to the aid of railway commuters as soon as he heard the first shots at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. “Many people claim they can give their lives for the country, but my father actually did. However, what we need now is an independent army with complete autonomy to do things. If soldiers of the country are only tasked with protecting very important people, when will the common man be secured?” she asks.