Draped in a traditional Kodava saree, her sports medals hanging around her neck, her favourite earrings and necklaces adorning her ears and neck – Somayya and Jayanthi silently accompanied the procession for their daughter Manjula’s funeral on Thursday. But the 15-year-old has been missing since August, ever since the rains and landslides wreaked havoc in Kodagu. So her parents buried a wooden doll in place of Manjula.
Manjula, a resident of Bettaturu, lived with her uncle, Basappa, aunt Gauramma and their daughter Monisha in Jodupala. “Apart from being good at her studies, she was an ace throwball player and brought laurels to her school and district. To pursue her sporting passion and reduce her daily commute, she stayed with her uncle and aunt in Jodupala,” Ganapathy, the principal of her school said.
In August, when heavy rains devastated Kodagu, leading to landslides wrecking the region, Basappa’s house was hit by a landslide on August 17, burying the house. While rescue officials were able to find and identify the bodies of Basappa, Gauramma and Monisha, Manjula’s body was never found.
Several attempts were made by the National Disaster Response Force to recover the teenager’s body, and the matter was brought to the notice of legislator KG Bopaiah, who requested authorities look into the matter. But it was all in vain.
“We found parts of a skeleton, in September, in the surrounding areas, but learnt later it was that of an animal,” said Poornima, a local.
Nearly two months on, since there is no body, Manjula’s family decided to hold her funeral, a wooden doll in place of her body. Somayya and Jayanthi’s three other children, their neighbours, family and friends, Manjula’s classmates all took part in the procession.
“My only regret is I was unable to see my daughter in her final moments. I am emotionally drained,” says Somayya. “We only want to ensure the final rites are performed, so our child’s soul can now rest in peace.”
Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)