'I simply cannot believe that Sushant has taken such a step. He was such a lively boy who inspired others through his zest for life.'
A mix of grief and incredulity engulfed the paternal residence of Sushant Singh Rajput after the news came that the 34-year-old actor, at the pinnacle of his Bollywood career, was found dead at his Mumbai home.
Relatives, neighbours and fans dashed to the two-storey house in Patna where Rajput -- the youngest among five siblings -- spent his childhood and where his father, a retired government servant, lives with a caretaker.
The compound was packed with well-wishers, taking turns to offer condolences to the grieving parent who, crestfallen by the tragedy, was fainting frequently.
The caretaker, Laxmi, told media persons that Rajput's eldest sister, who lives in Chandigarh, has conveyed over telephone that she would be arriving by flight later in the day and accompany her father to Mumbai.
It was not known if the mortal remains would be brought back to Patna for the last rites.
"I simply cannot believe that Sushant has taken such a step. He was such a lively boy who inspired others through his zest for life. His father, despite not being in a very good shape, used to come out for morning walks regularly and we used to talk about his son," says a neighbour.
"The father and son used to talk over phone frequently but never did the boy exhibit any signs of being fed up with life."
A teenaged girl from the neighbourhood, who recalled having met the actor when he visited home less than a year ago, said, "He was so full of positivity. It is hard to believe he could do something like this. If we find the reality so hard to sink in, imagine what must have been the state of the family. The question that will keep haunting us is: 'Why?'"
Facebook pages run by alumni of the city-based St Karen's High School, Rajput's alma mater where he studied till Class XII before leaving for Delhi to pursue a degree in engineering alongside his passion for acting, were abuzz with images of the actor in his teens, donning the school uniform, captioned with messages of grief and shock.
In a career that spanned barely over a decade, Rajput got nominated for many awards for his performances in movies and television shows and won some of these.
Rajput's last notable venture Chhichhore saw him portray the role of a sensitive, middle-aged father who resuscitates his son, after the young lad jumps off the window, shattered over flunking engineering entrance exams.
Aniruddh Pathak, the character played by Rajput, revived his son by summoning friends from across the world and with them narrating the tale of their own not-so-perfect academic careers with the message that it was okay to not succeed, there was always another chance.
His last Instagram post saw his brooding, melancholic side, as he posted a picture of his mother -- who had passed away while he was in school -- alongside a black and white image of himself.
'Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two. Maa,' he had posted.