Manjula, mother of Flight Lieutenant K. Praveen, who died in a chopper crash in Dehradun on Monday, had kept the ground floor of her two-storeyed house in TVS Nagar here ready for her son to occupy soon after his marriage, which she had planned. But, that was not to be.
On Monday, the news of Praveen’s death left Ms. Manjula shattered. Neither her neighbours nor colleagues could console Manjula, who works as a Superintendent in Southern Railway here. Praveen was her only hope and she had brought him up with all care and love.
On Tuesday evening, she remained glued to the television set when flash news about the crash of a chopper involved in a rescue mission started appearing. “I prayed that it should not be my son. I dialled his mobile number at least 30 times. But it remained unreachable,” the sobbing mother told her colleagues at her residence on Wednesday. By then, her two sisters and other family members tried to reach him over mobile. When one of her sisters said that she got an ‘engaged tone’ from Praveen’s mobile, the mother was relieved. At 8.30 p.m., when she got an outstation call, she thought it was Praveen calling.
But, the voice at the other end was not her son’s, but of an IAF official. “It is bad news ….” These words were enough for her to know his fate.
“He never flew in bad weather as he was not comfortable,” Ms. Manjula said.
Ms. Manjula last saw Praveen on May 26, when he left for duty after a 15-day leave as his grandfather, N. Chinnasamy, was not well.
On Monday, Praveen, who had the habit of talking to his mother over the phone every day when he was out of station, told her that he was not part of the rescue mission because of the inclement weather. He also informed her that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was staying in the hotel where his team was put up.
His junior in the school and a pilot with IAF (who preferred anonymity) said Praveen was studious and disciplined during his school days in the TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
Praveen’s aunt, Ramavarthini said that he was the family’s blue-eyed boy. “He was the head boy (pupil leader) in the school. He bagged the best outgoing student medal and the best NCC cadet at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering,” Ms. Ramavarthini said.
Though he got selected to one of the leading software companies through campus interview, he chose to join the IAF after he cleared the Combined Defence Services Examination, V. Krishnan, his uncle, recalled, adding that Praveen was last posted in Barrackpore in West Bengal.
The IAF officials were yet to confirm when the body will reach Madurai, as the weather in Uttarkhand continued to be inclement, he added.