Benson walks around restlessly at Nitin Narain’s house in Civil Lines, looking forlorn and barking incessantly. A Labrador, he arrived in Delhi from Himachal Pradesh Tuesday morning, and has been living with Narain, a friend of Siddharth Sharma, for the last few days.
Benson was gifted to Sharma’s elder sister Shilpa Mittal. She believes Benson is a reflection of her brother. “Benson was my birthday present, but he is exactly like Siddharth,” she said. “They say dogs imbibe from their owner, so he is also like him, very notorious, very hyper, always wanting to be the centre of attention.”
Born in Mumbai, Sharma completed his schooling from Central School, Colaba. He followed this up with a diploma in electronics and telecommunications from Swami Vivekanand College in Mumbai and, after an unsuccessful attempt at business, he decided to complete his education from Stratford College’s Lajpat Nagar branch, where he was studying computing and networking.
Shilpa’s eyes light up, even in her grief, when she talks of her brother, whom she fondly called Siddhi. “The age gap between Siddhi and me was only two-and-a-half years, so we were really thick. He was the only best friend I ever had,” she said. “He never used to get angry with people or hold grudges, and he was a people’s person. He would make friends with a chaiwallah and a businessman and treat them both equally because, to him, people were important, not their class or status.”
Conversations with Sharma’s friends revealed this was the unanimous opinion. A regular 32-year-old who enjoyed loud music, played pool and loved films, especially dubbed South Indian films.
“He was full of life, cheerful and very strong as a person,” said his Stratford classmate Suyash Kharel. “He had no worries and problems that we knew of, and if we had any, he would try to reassure us.” His friends spoke of a kind of irony in his death, recalling how they had been trying to talk him out of buying a motorbike for fear he would get injured.
“The really sad part is that last year Siddharth was saying he wanted to buy a bike, a Bullet,” said his friend Sajeel Khan. “We were all trying to convince him to not get a bike, but to get a used car because it would be safer. We were worried he would break his leg or something in an accident. How did we know he would die just walking across the road?”
He went on to compare Sharma’s situation with the boy accused of hitting him with the Mercedes. “Here, getting a 32-year-old a vehicle was a family discussion, and there, a child who isn’t even 18 is already behind the wheel.”
Sharma’s family had hoped to send him to the US for his final year of education. “We wanted him to have a new life and a new career,” said his sister. “Now, all that is gone. He is no more and we are left here, fighting for justice when all we should have to do is deal with our grief.”
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