On Friday a turbulent sea furiously lashes the seawall near Manassery near Fort Kochi and sprays jets of water on the nearby houses. Johnamma’s house is also hit, but the memory of a fateful Friday a few months ago still haunts her. Her son Jeevan Andrews would have turned five that day. Like every year she would have accompanied him to church to offer birthday prayers. But Jeevan was no more; neither was his father Raphel Dinu.
Standing dumbstruck in front of the garlanded photograph of her son and husband, Johnamma is yet to come to terms with fate that snatched away her happiness, her hopes, her life.
The father-son duo from the small fishing village was killed when a private bus fatally knocked down the motorcycle they were travelling on at South Chellanam on May 5. Raphel was taking his son to a juice bar after dropping Johnamma and their two-and-a-half year old daughter Jeenamol at a relative’s home.
The little girl’s eyes swell with tears at the mention of her father and brother. “She wakes up and goes to sleep every day asking about them. She looks for them wherever people gather,” says Johnamma, her voice choking with emotion.
Annie, the elder sister of Raphel, alleges that the cleaner was behind the wheel at the time of the accident as the driver had taken a break. “Passengers said that the bus was heading at breakneck speed and it knocked down the father and son. The driver could not bring the bus to a halt even after it rammed the motorcycle,” Annie said.
The tragedy shattered and took a huge toll on the family. The inconsolable Johnamma fell seriously ill soon after the tragedy and spent five days in a hospital. She is now a shadow of her former self. Raphel’s 75-year-old father Antony and mother Reetha also were in a state of shock for a while.
Fire has not been stoked in the kitchen of the three-room house for a while. The desolate family do not even feel like cooking. Raphel’s younger sister, who lives nearby, brings food for them every day. The loss of the sole breadwinner has dealt a body blow to the family, which now relies on the kindness of their close relatives.