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A son, a husband, a brother battle for their lives

Manu A B in Mumbai
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July 12, 2006 17:51 IST
Last Updated: July 12, 2006 18:18 IST

An inconsolable mother sits outside the Intensive Care Unit at the Karuna Hospital in the Mumbai suburb of Borivali. Holding a rosary, she is praying desperately.

Inside, her only son, 18-year-old Vikrant Khanwilkar, is battling for his life, having been grievously injured in Tuesday's blasts in Mumbai. She says a bright and lively Vikrant is a second-year microbiology student at the city's Wilson College.

The grief-stricken mother has been sitting there since 2 am along with her husband Satish, an art director at Priya Maitrini, a Marathi magazine.

The shocked father tried calling up his son as soon as he heard about the blasts, as Vikrant was supposed to have reached home by that time. Their attempts to call him were futile. Later at night, they came to know that someone in their building in the same train died in the blast.

The people who were with him in the train informed them that Vikrant too was in the same train and asked them to check out at the hospitals.

The stunned family made further enquiries and finally located him at Bhagwati Hospital. He had borne the brunt of the severe explosion, his face is now almost beyond recognition.

He was later shifted to the ICU at Karuna Hospital. Now on a ventilator, a fair and frail-looking Vicky (as he is fondly called) is gasping for life, oblivious of the tragedy that has struck him and others in his beloved city.

"He is still bleeding and is being given blood. His mother has not been even allowed to go inside and see her son as she will not be able to bear the nightmarish sight," says a family friend.

"I am worried about my aunty," says Aparna, the lady's niece. "We are all praying that he (Vikrant) recovers."

"Satish," a relative of the Khanwilkars says, "is so shocked that he can't remember things. He can't even remember which doctor is attending to his son. He is only praying for his son."

"I am very confused and I am not able to remember things. My son just completed 18 years of age. He left home as usual. We never imagined such a tragedy would happen to us. On some days he used to leave early from college. I wish he had left a little earlier yesterday," says the anxious father as he walks into the ICU to see Vikrant again.

A wife's grief

A tearful Indira Thackeray comes out of the ICU after a glimpse of her husband, Ramesh Thackeray, who is critical. Ramesh works with the Mumbai police.

"He called me at 5 pm when he boarded the train," says Indira. "We never thought he would never make it home."

When she heard about the blasts, she tried calling him but did not get through. She feared he was hit by the blast, but she could have never imagined that he would be in such a state.

He lost his hand

Answering continuous calls on his mobile phone, Ramesh Moradia is tense. His brother Dinesh is in the ICU. He has lost his right hand, and is serious. "His (Dinesh's) hand was ripped off in the blast. He was out of town and had come back to Mumbai only yesterday. Every day he leaves from work very late. Unfortunately, he wanted to reach home early and took the ill-fated train," sobs Ramesh.

There are 28 blast victims at the Karuna Hospital. "There are 10 patients in the ICU. A couple of cases are very critical," says Dr Akshay Bhagat.

While the doctors are trying their best to save the injured, the victims lie inside the ICU, unaware of the tragedy that has changed their lives forever.

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