Ma naana kaavali,” (I want my father), was the heart-wrenching cry that could be heard repeatedly over the loud wails in Venkatesh Babu’s house in Kalasipalya.

His 14-year-old daughter was inconsolable as Venkatesh was among the 45 people who died after the bus he was travelling in went up in flames early on Wednesday.

Venkatesh (50) and his cousin Anita (42) left Bangalore on Tuesday night to hand over invitations for Anita’s daughter’s wedding on November 15. Anita’s sister Shalini said: “My sister and Venkatesh had packed a box and left for Hyderabad to invite actor Chiranjeevi for the wedding of my niece Anusha. However, early on Wednesday, I got a call from a relative enquiring about the accident. I switched on the TV and saw the names and phone numbers of people who had died flashing on the screen. I saw Venkatesh’s name in whose name the tickets had been booked. I immediately went to Jabbar Travels but the office was closed. Later, it was confirmed that Venkatesh and Anita had died in the accident,” she told The Hindu.

Venkatesh was the president of Akhila Karnataka Annayya Chiranjeevi Fans Welfare Association and also ran a travel business.

He is survived by five siblings, his wife, Shanti, and three children.

While his son, Srinivas, is a college student, Soundarya is in class 9 and the youngest, Aishu, is in class 7.

A grief-stricken Soundarya kept asking for her father, while Anusha was in a state of shock.

One of Anusha’s relatives, Jyothi, said she had recently completed engineering and had been called for a job interview. “She was a good student. She thought she would consider job opportunities after she got married,” she said tearfully.

Anusha has two younger sisters in the family besides her father who is a tailor, who all reside in Banaswadi in the city.

Venkatesh’s 82-year-old father, Sundar Raj, said the family frequently used Jabbar Travels for their trips. “They actually wanted to leave on Monday night but owing to the heavy rain, they postponed the journey,” he lamented.

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