Dreary sobs of a woman echoed through the long corridor, a few floors below the burns unit at the Ernakulam Medical Centre, where 20-year-old Kavitha Vijayakumar is fighting for her life. Kavitha was set ablaze by a stalker – 18-year-old Ajin Reji Mathew – a few days back on her way to college. And while her parents hope and pray as their daughter struggles in the burns ward, even the staff at the hospital are in tears looking at the family’s plight.
Kavitha, who has sustained 65% burn injuries in the brutal attack in broad daylight in Pathanamthitta district, was shifted to a specialist hospital in Kochi on Tuesday evening for better treatment. Her condition is getting worse and the family is beating themselves up for ignoring the signs of harassment from her stalker Ajin.
“How could something so terrible happen to her?” cries Kavitha’s mother over phone and falls back on her bed in the waiting room at the hospital. Outside the room, away from her mother’s desperate sobs, Kavitha’s grandfather speaks dismally to himself.
“She informed us about a boy who was harassing her. We, however, did not take it seriously then as she mentioned it in passing,” Kavitha’s brother-in-law, Vikas, tells TNM, “But we did not imagine it would turn out to be this serious and tragic.”
Vikas adds that Kavitha seemed distressed since last week. “She was gloomy most of the time and even used to switch off her phone or keep it on silent. It is only now, after the incident, that we are able to make sense of what she told us and understand why she looked anxious. It was probably this boy she was trying to tell us about. If she had explained to us what was happening, maybe we could have intervened and averted the tragedy,” he says.
Kavitha’s father is a daily wage labourer. A native of Ranni in Pathanamthitta district. Her father had relocated to Tiruvalla with his family years ago, to give his daughters a better education. Kavitha’s elder sisters work in the medical field.
“And like her sisters, Kavitha, too, has been pursuing a course in the medical field,” Jith, a family member, tells TNM. “The family lives in a rented house. Her parents did everything to ensure all three daughters received a good education. They just got one of the daughters married off, a month ago,” he says.
Since Kavitha has sustained 65% burns in the attack, the hospital authorities said that Kavitha’s condition remains extremely critical and she is still on the ventilator.
Her parents, who have very little means to support themselves, are now struggling to get money for her treatment.
Meanwhile, the family intends to file a complaint against Ajin, who has been arrested for attempt to murder. “We are ready to go to any extent to ensure our girl gets justice. We did not file a complaint yet because right now, our primary concern is to save her,” another family member says.