An office boy at a firm in Marine Lines, Tapendra Singh Luhar’s (28) life was wrapped in a daily struggle to keep his family financially afloat, provide good treatment to his ailing mother and see that his three-year-old daughter got admission to a good school.
Luhar was one of the six people who lost their lives in the CSMT bridge collapse on Thursday. Like hundreds of train commuters, he had taken the Himalaya Bridge at CSMT on his way home, when the structure gave away under his feet.
“He was speaking to us on the phone when the line suddenly got disconnected. Within minutes, I began to receive photos and videos of the crash site. We must have called him at least a hundred times, but no one answered. We ran from one hospital to another (Thursday) before locating his body at St George Hospital,” Luhar’s cousin, Mayur Singh, said.
Sceptical after the previous year’s overbridge collapse, Luhar always used to sprint across the overbridge, Mayur said.
“The fear of last year’s foot overbridge collapse in Andheri and the 2017 stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station forever played on his mind… Yesterday, the bridge fell just as he climbed up the stairs and stepped onto it,” he said.
On Friday, a pall of gloom hung over Mahadev Nagar, a slum colony in Wadala West, as news of Luhar’s death spread. In a narrow lane — meters away from Auxilium Convent High School, where Luhar wanted to get his daughter Tanishka admitted — his hapless mother Chandra (60) clutched onto her granddaughter, as Luhar’s brother Sunil (20) leaned wordlessly against the wall of their one-room tenement.
“He (Luhar) desperately wanted Tanishka to get admission to Auxilium Convent.
He wanted her to have a better life than he had. Her name did not appear on the school’s first list, and he had been working tirelessly to ensure that she made it in the second. This was his only dream,” said Luhar’s uncle Krishna Singh.
Tapendra, who had moved to Mumbai from Accham district in Nepal as a 14-year-old, worked as an office boy at an advertising agency in Marine Lines and was the main breadwinner for the family. He used to wash cars in the area from 4 am every day before leaving for his office a few hours later to earn some extra money, local residents said.
His brother, Sunil, currently works in a hotel and earns only Rs 5,000 — Rs 1,000 short of their room rent of Rs 6,000.
“After years of paying off loans taken to treat their mother’s kidney ailment, Luhar had just managed to become debt-free. But he was gone just as that happened,” Luhar’s uncle Krishna said.