27-year-old Veni from Vellore had been brimming with excitement ahead of the celebration of her second wedding anniversary with her husband Vignesh. As a surprise, she had purchased two wedding rings to be exchanged in Chennai where the couple had planned a holiday with their friends. But on February 6, when she took him into the sea as a romantic gesture in Palavakkam beach, Vignesh's surprise turned to shock and then despair as his wife was knocked down and swept away by the tide.
"We kept calling them to ask about how the celebration went, but Vignesh's phone was switched off," says Mahesh, his uncle. "They had gone to the beach close to midnight and at 2 am we got a call from Vignesh. He was wailing. He just managed to say that Veni was dead," he adds.
In those two hours, boats had been dispatched by the police into the sea to find Veni, until her body was washed ashore on the Kottivakkam beach.
According to their family, Veni and Vignesh had been in a relationship for three years before their parents agreed to the marriage. The two had met through mutual friends and immediately hit it off.
"Their marriage was such a happy event," says Mahesh. "They were so understanding towards one another and truly enjoyed each other's company."
Vignesh and Veni had even take his bike to Ooty and Kodaikanal before their child was born to celebrate each other's birthdays.
Their family says the couple enjoyed travelling and this plan to commemorate their love in the sea was not one bit off character. However, Mahesh makes it clear that they never took unnecessary risks.
"Yes, the police initially asked them not to go into the sea. But they promised to not go too far. They were caught off guard by the high tide," he says. "There were three other couples and their children with them. If they thought it was even a little unsafe, they wouldn't have ventured out. Especially not now, with a small child," he adds.
In fact, they had gone to Chennai because Vignesh's company gave him a coupon for a free stay in a resort in the city.
"They were so excited about life but now it looks like their lifetime of adventure has come to an end after just two years of marriage," says Mahesh, his voice heavy with grief.
Speaking to TNM about the incident, an investigating official said that going into the sea after the sun has set has always been deemed dangerous.
"We have several signs on the beach warning people against entering the sea in the late evening and night. In addition to this, policemen patrolling the beaches warned this couple as well. When it is dark and the sea is rough, it is particularly dangerous to go into the water. Especially because it becomes harder to locate anyone who is swept away by the water. It obliterates the window within which they can be immediately pulled out with the help of local fishermen and specialised divers," says the officer.