CHENNAI: “It was around 7 in the morning. I was cooking my brother’s favourite dish as he had told me that he’d be coming home with his family for Christmas. Suddenly the phone rang and I heard about his death,” said a teary-eyed Krishnaveni, recalling the tragic Pulicat lake boat mishap on boxing day in 2011.
Her brother, Daniel, died while trying to save his three sons and wife. “My father held me and my two brothers and put us on top of the boat. He was trying to reach for my mother when a wave washed him away. The wave took away my mother, father and my two brothers. I somehow managed to hold on to the bar,” says 15-year-old D Pownraj, who survived along with his two cousins.
When Krishnaveni was informed about the mishap, she rushed to the spot. “I collapsed when I saw the body of Bakiyam, Pownraj’s mother, wrapped in a plastic bag,” she says.
“My aunt had to leave her house in Washermanpet and come over to my place in MGR Nagar. She has been like a mother to me ever since. She is the only family I have now,” says Pownraj. With his and her son, Elango, the boy now lives in ‘Daniel Bakiyam Illam,’ the house his father had built.
“I’m only left with memories now. This house has seen a lot. I used to be haunted by the past. But now, I’ve made peace with it,” says Pownraj. The government has deposited `2 lakh in his account that can be withdrawn only when he turns 18. It’s been three years since the mishap took place. And Pownraj continues to regret one thing: “I only wish they hadn’t taken a turn when the tides were getting rough. Everything would’ve been fine then.”