Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N | The News Minute | December 23, 2014 | 18.39 pm IST December 26, 2004. An unforgettable day in the life of many but for Mr. Ravi Shankar, it was a day that wrecked his home and he is still grappling to come to terms with reality. A cruel fate snatched away his ‘dear’ daughter Apurva and one-year-old son from him, leaving him and his wife in agony; to rise everyday to the regret of not being able to save their children. Posted near the Bhuj district in Gujarat, even today, IAF officer Ravi comes down to Tamil Nadu around this time every year, distributing photographs of his missing daughter with a kindle of hope that someday he will be reunited with his little girl. It was another lazy Sunday for the family of Shankars when disaster struck this small happy family. With daughter and their infant son comfortably tucked into the warmth and care of their father, little did they know that this would be their last. His wife Mamata Kumari was preparing tea in the kitchen when strong tremors jolted her. Still recovering from this sudden unexplained event, a second after-shock confirmed her fear. It was an earthquake. Mamata quickly scooped up the baby while Ravi carried his eight-year-old daughter in his arms and rushed out of their first floor residence in Car Nicobar in Nicobar islands. They lived very close to the seashore and on emerging from the building they quickly made way to a nearby ramp only to realise it wasn’t safe enough. “We were running to a safe place when we saw an army truck moving in our direction. We managed to hop into the truck when my daughter and I got separated. While she sat in one corner, I was in the other. That was the last time I saw her.” Soon, a big wave engulfed the entire truck and dragged it towards the shore. Water filled the truck and at this point all the family members got separated. After frantically searching for one and half hours, he was relieved when he saw his friend at a far distance bring back his wife. A smile crossed his face when he saw that the little one lay tucked in her arms, but it was short-lived. “I was happy to see that at least three of us were alive. But when she got closer, I sensed something was terribly wrong with my son. I took the baby to the doctor to confirm,” he choked. His fear came true, the baby had not survived. The very next day, all IAF officers and their families were flown to Chennai to safety and shelter. He was clueless about what measures to take to find his daughter as there were scores of dead people and people lay scattered in several relief camps. However, he saw a ray of hope when a few people at the relief camps called him to inform that they had seen someone who looked similar to his daughter. He immediately flew to Car Nicobar on January 20, 2005 and later to Port Blair. He showed the photographs of Apurva to those taking refuge at the relief camp. They claimed that she was with them. “They told me that she continuously cried for days telling everyone that her mother and father had died,” he paused. “But she was taken away by someone 4-5 days later and since then she has gone missing.” He stayed there for days contacting government officials for help, but in vain. Occasionally, he gets a call from somewhere in Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Karnataka claiming that they have seen a girl matching the descriptions of his posters, but only to be let down. The then Bengaluru Police Commissioner and DCP Alok Kumar too had done their bit and finding the missing who was reportedly seen in Kolar region. A case of missing has also been in lodged in Mallapuram in Kerala. He last heard rumours of his daughter in 2010 when he got a call from Mannar ghat in Kerala. “Once, I was informed that a girl was found and I rushed to the place. The police ordered a DNA test to confirm if she was my biological daughter. But the results turned out to be negative,” he said dejectedly. Currently, he his distributing photographs of his daughter in Velankanni in Tamil Nadu and will be soon moving to Nagapattinam to find her there. The couple now have a 5-and-half-year old son. When asked how his wife is coping up with the situation, he said. “She is okay. How far she is okay, I don’t know.” Even 10 years later, Ravi is not willing to extinguish the faint hope is lingering in his heart. Share the story: Tweet  Read:He lost 3 children in the Asian Tsunami, today he is Appa to 37
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