With work as farm labourers not yielding much, Bency, 45, and wife Devi Girija, 42, residents of Paravur, had recently started selling tea from a cart in the temple town. They were concerned about the education of their two children, daughter Krishna and son Kishore, who will be in classes X and VIII, respectively, when the next academic session starts.
The sister-brother duo saw their parents bleed, battle for life and finally die in front of them in the wee hours of Sunday.
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According to Sunitha, Girija’s sister, the two took their cart outside Puttingal Devi temple when the festival began last week. She said: “They were doing a brisk business. Bency kept the entire earnings in a purse on the cart – he wanted to count the money at the end of the festival. They were to leave Sunday… the tragedy struck just hours before.”
The family lived in a single-room, unplastered house, built a few years back with a bank loan of Rs 5 lakh. “The bank was putting pressure on Bency to repay the loan,” Sunitha said. “His idea was to earn something extra during this festival season to repay part of the loan, as also meet school expenses of the children.”
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Since it was summer vacation, Krishna and Kishore were at hand, helping their parents on festival ground. When the fireworks began late Saturday night, the couple sent daughter Krishna to a nearby house, from where she was watching the show. Minutes before, Bency had sent Kishore to get a few glasses from a nearby shop — the explosion took place when the boy was on his way back.
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Sunitha has learnt from other witnesses that Bency and Girija were still alive when Kishore returned. “He cried, pleading others to save them. He was held back by someone in the melee…as his parents died a painful death,” she said.