In Worli’s BDD chawl, the Haldankars are yet to come to terms with the loss of their 16-year-old son Mayuresh, who died at the stampede at then Elphinstone Road station on September 29 last year. In such trying times, the Haldankars have found a shoulder to lean on — their neighbours.
For Mayuresh’s parents and sister, life has not been the same since last year. While Sushmita (22) keeps to herself and tears up at the mention of her brother, her father Prakash, who works as a housekeeper, rushes home every evening from work to take care of his ill wife Pratibha.
The chawl, meanwhile, has taken it up on itself to remember Mayuresh throughout the year. On Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi earlier this month, Govindas participating in a human pyramid saluted Mayuresh. Be it helping the family financially or visiting them, the residents of the chawl have taken it upon themselves to ensure that Haldankars move on. At least one neighbour visits the family regularly.
One of the immediate neighbours, Vivek Rahate, said Sushmita often panics whenever she hears thunder. “It was raining on the day of the stampede. Sushmita has become vulnerable and she feels uneasy if it rains heavily or thunders,” he added.
“Many nearby mandals have invited us to stage Dahi Handi in our colony in Mayuresh’s memory. Each mandal offered him a salute,” Vivek’s brother Vinayak said.
The Haldankars also hosted Lord Ganesha at home this year but unlike his traditional five-day stay at the residence, the idol was immersed after a day-and-a-half after his arrival.
Prakash, often referred as Appa in the colony, said: “My colony has helped me a lot. My wife and daughter break down often thinking of Mayuresh. We have asked the Railways to employ Sushmita but it has refused.”
After the stampede, many NGOs, social groups, politicians and private organisations had helped the Haldankars financially. Till the Railways financial compensation of Rs 5 lakhs reached them, donations from close to 20 groups had helped the family with their expenses.
Mayuresh used to work as an office boy in an import-export firm in Masjid. His colleague Rutesh Manjrekar, also a resident of the chawl, said he was lucky to escape the tragedy. “We often went to office together. On that day, Mayuresh left early and took the other bridge at Parel… not the one he usually takes,” Rutesh recalled.
On October 10, 2017, Mangesh Ahivale sold vada pav for Rs 5 at Prabhadevi station, the erstwhile Elphinstone Road station, and gave the family around Rs 80,000. Ahivale said he was moved by the family’s loss and wanted to help them. “Till today, I check on them… I call them or try to visit them. They have a special place in my heart. The stampede was an unfortunate incident,” he added.