As February 21 draws near, it causes dread among shop owners and locals at Dilsukhnagar, where two bombs ripped through the busy area on that day last year, killing 17 people

L. Srinivas (13) was forced to quit school after his father Narsing Rao lost his hearing in the deadly bomb blast that ripped through Dilsukhnagar on February 21 last year. The blast occurred right in front of Rao’s shop, just behind the busy bus stop. The shop selling bags was reduced to ashes. One of the shop workers, Rafi, died on the spot. Rafi was among 17 others who were killed in the twin blasts.

“We had to shut two of our four shops after the blasts,” says Srinivas, who now manages one of the shops. He misses going to school.

“My father cannot manage because of his hearing disability and my elder brother is put up in a hostel,” he says -- his face betraying a sense of helplessness. “Somebody has to take care of the shop,” he explains. “My father cannot manage sit here for a long time now due to health issues.”

Despite the gloom, luck smiled on Srinivas.

Vandemataram Bal Vatika High School, where Srinivas was a student of class 8, has agreed to provide study material to him for the entire year he had missed. Well, February 21 is not far away. As each day passes by, it leaves a dreadful feeling among shop owners and locals in Dilsukhnagar.

Life was normal at the blast sites -- one behind the bus stop and the other near Anand Tiffins, an eatery -- on Sunday.

“What can I say? Our business was hit badly. People may share our grief for a day and move on,” says Mahesh Purohit, who has a tea stall opposite Anand Tiffins.

At the second blast site behind a bus stop, the ravaged roof of the bus shelter remains in the same condition -- as it bore the brunt on the fateful day.

L. Rakesh, who runs an electronics showroom, lazily looks at his computer screen watching the live feed from the CCTV cameras he had installed after the blasts. Rakesh’s father, who was in the shop at the time of the blast, fractured his leg. The store, too, was damaged.

“No aid was extended to us to rebuild our lives,” Rakesh says.

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