RAJKUMAR GUPTA was a familiar face on Platform 7 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus he had been selling bhel there for the past 10 years. On November 26 night, he fell victim to the two men who went berserk with their guns at the CST two bullets struck him, on his stomach and hand, even as he and other vendors rushed to the exit.
What his wife, Rajkumari, 35, knows is what his fellow-vendors told her. She said: I received a call at eight in the morning on Thursday [November 27] from one of his saathis [fellow-vendors]. He said I should rush to Cama Hospital because my husband had been injured and was admitted there.
I was awake the whole night because he had not come home. I had been watching TV and knew there was firing at V.T. [old name for CST]. I knew the firing was on Platform 7. When I reached the hospital they showed me his dead body. No one could tell me anything. The place was in complete confusion. I do not know when he died or whether he got immediate help.
People say he was alive for two or three hours. His saathis just said he was shot as they reached the road. They took him to the hospital. I dont know if they were with him all night or whether they returned in the morning.
The Gupta family stays in Sagar chawl at Annabhau Sathe Nagar in the eastern suburb of Mankhurd. Rajkumar was the sole earner in the family. Rajkumari does not know what the future holds for her, her in-laws or her children daughters Neelam, 16, and Sital, 9, and sons Deepak, 14, and Sandeep, 12.
Said Rajkumari: I never knew how much my husband earned. He never told me, but he gave me Rs.150 every day. With that I fed eight people and tried to save some money too. The monthly rent is Rs.600 and the electricity bill comes to about Rs.150. We were managing and the children were also going to the municipal school.
Rajkumari was given Rs.5 lakh by the State government and this amount has been deposited in a bank account opened in her name. Her brother is managing her money. There is no one else I trust. He will look after us, but how much can I expect from him? He drives a rickshaw and has his own family to look after, she said.
The Guptas have been in Mumbai for 10 years. They were married 25 years ago and spent their early years together at Bhikani village in Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh. There is no point in my returning to the village. We have no land and no home there, said Rajkumari.
She knows she has to deal with the sadness of losing her husband and the fear of how she will bring up her four children, but what she is unable to come to terms with, she says, is not knowing if her husband could have been saved.Lyla Bavadam