Almost eight years after a tragedy tore through her life yet again, Damayanti Goyal got her passport made earlier this year. She undertook her maiden journey abroad, alone, to Amsterdam where she spent three months with her grand niece. It was the first time she had tried to enjoy herself since losing her 25-year-old son Haresh to an AK-47 bullet that came zipping out of Nariman House in Colaba, clearly visible from her own top floor home in an old, ramshackle apartment building.
“Initially I didn’t like it there. You can’t speak to anyone, you cannot go anywhere, if you need something you have to go to a mall, they don’t have bazaars and stores and vendors everywhere like we do,” she says. “But it was a break from my routine. Haresh can never be far from my thoughts, but seeing a new place was an interesting experience.” Haresh’s death hit Damayanti hard, having lost her husband to a road accident during the Navratri festival right after her son was born. “Haresh was four months old when his father died. I had such big dreams for him.”
After he finished college, he joined a diamond polishing unit for a few months, then moved to a call centre. He was looking for a fresh job when 26/11 occurred. Living in a joint family with sisters-in-law and their children, her own married daughter visiting frequently, Damayanti says she is grateful for her support system. “I didn’t even know that he was dead, for three days. We had been asked to move out of our houses during the NSG operation. Haresh’s body was taken to the hospital by relatives, and then brought home when we came back on Friday,” she says, wiping away tears.
As a college student, the family wouldn’t buy Haresh a motorbike out of fear that there would be another accident. They wouldn’t let him travel abroad to look for work. “Only to have him die on the street outside the house. That’s fate,” says Damayanti.