The damp from the previous day’s rain hung in the air, the brief spell hardly abating the early summer heat on Tuesday. The morning after the bus accident in Idukki that snuffed out the lives of eight students, the family members, batchmates, and professors of the students hailing from the city, (apart from bus attendant, Rajkumar) Vignesh Raju, Jithin Paul and Hemanth Kumar, struggled to come to grips with the their loss. All through Tuesday, a procession of mourners, including government officials right from the Chief Minister, arrived to offer their condolences to the bereaved families.
Vignesh’s family, shocked by the devastating news, suffered another blow, with his uncle, Satheeshan, and aunt, Meera, still under medical treatment at a hospital in Adimaly. The two guardians who had accompanied the group of 39 students from the Sarabhai Institute of Science and Technology will be brought home when they are well enough to be discharged from the Intensive Care Unit. Vignesh’s body was taken to his ancestral home at Malayinkeezh where the final funeral rites were held.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy; Speaker G. Karthikeyan; Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor; K. Muraleedharan, MLA; and Mayor K. Chandrika, were among those who visited the family.
As the long line of officials, mediapersons, faculty members of the institution, and classmates trooped in and out of the house, Vignesh’s relatives were seen gathered beside the house, numb with disbelief.
Atul Kannan, 15, Vignesh’s cousin, was perplexed that a private family affair had been turned into a crowded public one, marked by the presence of politicians and media. A student of St. Mary’s Residential School, Poojapura, he recently completed his board examinations and had been at the house since 4 a.m. when the body arrived.
“A couple of days before he left for the excursion on Saturday, Vignesh had come to our home at Malayinkeezh. We spent much time together, but he made no mention of the trip,” said Atul, who was close to his cousins, Vignesh and his older brother, Vaishakh.
He was also concerned about his uncle, Vignesh’s father, Raju, a heart patient who was undergoing periodic treatment. “He is in another room now. It would not help him to be in the main room when there is so much going on.”