Two years ago, when Kathmandu-based Chandrakanta Gairhi decided to send his then 25-year-old daughter Shrijana to study at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here, it was to enable her realise her dream of becoming a progressive agriculturist back in Nepal.
But, on Friday, it was just the cold body of Shrijana that left in a casket by a flight to New Delhi, on way to Kathmandu.
The 27-year-old post-graduate student of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry died in a freak accident on Tuesday evening, when her dupatta got caught in a soil grinder in the university laboratory and strangulated her.
Shrijana, who, with a 9.5 Overall Grade Point Average (OGPA), was waiting to bring laurels to her family and institution by topping her post-graduate course, was only left with wreaths. Her family, teachers and friends just could not believe she was gone.
The post-mortem took place on Friday morning after Mr. Gairhi arrived from Kathmandu on Thursday night to identify the body of his daughter. The mood at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital morgue was one of acute loss and frustration that the life of so young and promising a person was snuffed out.
G. Kanaka, a PG student, who first spotted Shrijana lying motionless on the floor of the laboratory, recalled painfully how they sprinkled water on her face to revive her thinking she had only fainted. It was only after they saw the marks on her neck they realised the gravity of the situation.
Though their tears had dried up by Friday, two days after she died, the grief and sense of loss was still intense. All those who were at the hospital on Thursday night when the father identified the body, also turned up there on Friday to bid farewell to Shrijana.
The university ensured that Shrijana’s last journey was peaceful. It not only bore the expense of the journey to Kathmandu, but also involved its wide network of alumni in New Delhi to ensure the family had a smooth passage back home.
Said to have excelled at every stage of her education, a determined Shrijana had broken the walls of tradition to prove to her people that girls in Nepal could also study well when given a chance.
While most of the girls back home got married at the age of 16 or 17, she went on to study B.Sc. Agriculture in Rampur College in Nepal and emerged university second. Though she started working on a project after graduation, her heart was into learning more.
Getting to know about TNAU from Subash Ghimire, son of a family friend pursuing second year M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics in the university, she applied through the Embassy of Nepal and got selected on a scholarship.
Subash, now working in Delhi, said since she was so interested in studying and taking up progressive agriculture that her parents agreed to her wishes and sent her to India to study. And, that’s not all. She had even convinced her parents to send her abroad to pursue her doctoral studies in soil science.
“She was so focussed in her aim that she had even told her parents to find a groom who would agree to her studying abroad or would himself be interested in doing so,” he told this reporter.
The only daughter of Mr. Gairhi and Afsara Gairhi, Shrijana had just two months to complete her course when fate cut her life short.
Though Mr. Gairhi wanted to recall many pleasant memories of his daughter, the emotionally drained father in him could manage only a few words in a smattering of Hindi and English. He had let her pursue her dreams, which only died with her here.