On Sunday afternoon, 65-year-old Bhavani, a resident of Muddakkal in Attingal near Thiruvananthapuram was a broken-hearted woman. Her 29-year old grandson Pramod, she was told, had died in the Puttingal temple fire mishap in Kollam.
Her 45-year-old son Rajan too had gone missing after the mishap, with no trace of him in any hospital.
By Sunday afternoon, her second son Prakash, went to the Trivandrum Medical College and brought home a charred body. With the body emanating a foul smell, the family decided to cremate it as soon as possible. As the family sat in deep mourning, one son dead and the other lost, a few youngsters in the area saw a list on the web of injured people being attended to in hospitals and Pramodâ€™s name was on the list.
Pramodâ€™s mother, (Bhavaniâ€™s daughter) rushed to a hospital in Kollam only to find that her son who she had believed was dead, was very much alive and had suffered only minor injuries.
Whose body did they cremate then? â€śThe body didnâ€™t have any limbs or eyes. The rest of the face was badly burnt. I thought I saw a stitch above the lips, a gap between the teeth just like my nephew had. So I told the doctors that was Pramod,â€ť says Prakash, the uncle.
By Monday, Prakash received a call from another family in Thiruvananthapuram who too were frantically searching for their son. â€śThey told us he was wearing a red shirt, but the body had no clothes on it. That man too had stitches above his lips, maybe it was him,â€ť says Prakash.
â€śEven if itâ€™s their son, they can only get the ashes now. But Iâ€™m sure it will be of some solace to them,â€ť says Indira, a neighbour.
Pramod will return home in a day or two, but Bhavani is worried about what happened to her son Rajan. The family lives right next to a large godown where fireworks are assembled by the contractor Surendran. â€śMy son said we can make Rs 500 if they help the contractor during the festival and they went along with me. He may have died for Rs 500,â€ť wailed Bhavani.
Pramod became unconscious due to the impact of the explosion and does not remember where his uncle was last. Even as the family is relieved that he is safe, the search for Rajan continues.