‘I was going to meet him after a year, and now he’s gone’

By Azera Rahman, IANS,

Faridabad : Radha Gosai was eagerly awaiting the new year. On Jan 2, 2009, she was supposed to travel to Mumbai to meet her son, an intern in the Taj hotel. She had not seen him for a year. Now she will never see him again.

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Today, Radha sits like a stone in front of Gautam Gosai’s photograph – mourning the untimely death of her son who was killed in the Mumbai terror assault last month.

Just to broadcast his defiance of terror to the world, Gautam’s father Devi Singh Gosai was at the Taj hotel Sunday to meet the management when it reopened its doors to the world. All the senior managers remembered the bright lad fondly.

His mother back at home, though, was hardly aware of her surroundings.

“Gautam…Gautam…” was all that she kept mumbling, even as a smiling picture of 24-year-old Gautam dressed in a red sweater rested against the wall beside her.

Interning as a part time chef in the Taj hotel for the last one year, Gautam was a student of hotel management in Mumbai. On the night of Nov 26 when terrorists struck, he was on the job at the hotel and was killed.

Nearly a month after the tragedy, the Gosai household at sector 48 in Faridabad was enveloped with the silence of mourning, occasionally broken with the cries of his mother and sister.

“At around 1.30 a.m. of Nov 27, he called us. His father took the call and Gautam immediately said: Papa, switch on the TV and let me speak to Mummy,” his brother-in-law told IANS.

“But I couldn’t talk to him…I was out attending a “satsang” (prayer service). My son wanted to talk to me and I couldn’t,” the grief-stricken mother wailed – piercing the pin drop silence.

“He said that he was going towards the basement of the hotel, and that there were shootings all around. He asked his father not to call him for fear of jeopardising his security, but he promised to call again,” she continued in between her tears.

Gautam, however, could not fulfil his promise. He was killed in the early hours of Nov 27, while the shootings and the hostage drama went on until the next day, killing around 170 people and injuring many more.

He was cremated in his home town Nov 29.

Close family friend R.P. Huniyal said: “Gautam was holed up in the basement. Outside, a terrorist shot at his friend and he screamed out Gautam’s name. Unable to control himself, he went out to help his friend. That was when he was shot.”

Third among four siblings – two girls and two boys – Gautam was always studious and not all that much into sports, his relatives say. He was very sure that he wanted to study hotel management and left for Mumbai four years back to pursue his dream.

“All that has remained of my son now are memories. He was so happy when we told him that we will be coming to see him in January. He had come home last December. It was a year since we saw him.

“He kept insisting that we come by air and not the train. ‘I will do your tickets. The train will take too much time, Mummy’, he used to say. And now he is gone,” Radha said in a broken voice.

“Just like my son, so many other mothers have lost their children. I hope the government takes serious steps so that no other Gautam dies like this.”