As 10-year-old Vishal lies quietly on his bed at Civil Hospital in Amritsar Sunday, the fear and pain he feels is evident. His head bandaged, he points to his stomach, legs and face every few minutes, telling his mother that it is hurting.
Out to watch the Dussehra mela with his father Rajesh Sahni, a fruit cart vendor, Vishal and his two siblings had a miraculous escape as the train ran over people standing on tracks to watch Ravan Dahan, leaving 59 dead and several injured.
But the memories of the horrifying incident will be etched for a lifetime in his mind, says his mother Kalindi.
“Seham gaya hai… darr gaya hai…kuch bolta nahi hai… pehle bahut bolta tha…,” says crying Kalindi, standing beside her husband Rajesh Sahni, who too has a bandage on his arm.
Vishal tries to recollect what happened Friday evening but stops at this, “I do not remember anything. I don’t know what happened after I fell down. I was on the ground and my head is still hurting,” he says.
However, he clearly remembers what happened before the speeding train came. “We were watching Ravan Dahan. There were a lot of firecrackers. There was too much of noise and I got frightened. I stuffed my ears with fingers to avoid firecrackers as I was getting scared. I started moving back and soon a lot of people crushed me. After that I do not know what happened.”
His father Rajesh Sahni adds, “My kids and I were not standing on railway tracks. As the train crushed others, there was a stampede and me and my children were buried under the fleeing people. My children could not breathe but I pulled them out. Thankfully, they were still breathing.”
Kalindi says that her three children-Vishal, Vivek (12) and Kajal (8) are not going to come out of the trauma anytime soon.
“My daughter still cries in the middle of the night and says Ravan dekhne nahi jaana. They do not want to see Ravan or any mela ever again.”
“Never in 12-13 years did we go to see mela. This year Vishal said he wanted to go. He only asked his father that he must take them and now I do not think that my children are ever going to ask for it again,” she says.
Meanwhile, Vishal declares: “Sab jagah dard ho raha hai… Nahi jaana Raavan dekhne, kabhi nahi jaana”… (Every part of my body is hurting… I will never go [to see Ravan] ever again).