Fifty-six days before the Calvim tragedy would have completed eleven years, the news of the acquittal of bus driver Rajesh Naik by the additional sessions court in Panjim has left the mother of late Nagale Gracias disheartened, but the news has not really disseminated to all villagers as preparations for Christmas have taken precedence.
Four school-going children and two adults, a male and female, met a watery grave away on February 18, 2012.
“When I sometimes think of how my angel would come back home and recount to me what happened in school, I laugh. Memories of her stories flash past my mind sometimes. When at home, she would carry her brother and sometimes put him to sleep,” recollects Rita Gracias, mother of Nagale who was ten when her life got another call.
Rita Gracias, mother of Nagale
“I think the person responsible for my daughter’s death should have received some sort of punishment. Otherwise, what is the deterrent to others?” asks Rita who has two daughters elder to the late Nagale and younger son, Nathan.
“The bus used to pass by our house at 12.10 pm and it hadn’t arrived that day. Someone who passed my house informed me around that time that the bus had met with some sort of accident at the jetty. I didn’t realize the severity of the accident.
It was only later that I asked my brother-in-law to go and check and it was he who gave me the horrible news,” recounts Rita.
“I felt the pain at first but now I remember the beautiful times I had with my daughter and those memories erase all pain,” says Rita as she prepares to celebrate Christmas with her family.
Diana Andrez Dias and Elvina Everisto Dias were two sisters who were victims of the tragedy. Their mother, according to villagers, left for Mumbai after her son finished his education. “They come down to Goa for holidays,” stated villager Santosh.
Clara Fernandes, resident
The son of Josefina Dias, who was sixty when she succumbed, lives in the village but did not respond to phone calls. Fifty-nine-year-old Dayanand Hoble, the other adult in the ill-fated bus, was returning home to Mayem.
“I was working on the day the incident happened but the news was all around and went to the site to gather whatever information I could. From what I remember hearing, the bus was being driven by a youngster who had no license. I think, what happened could have been avoided,” says Clara Fernandes who resides less than five hundred meters from the site of the tragedy.
“I still cannot understand how all the passengers in the bus died and only the driver got away. I remember the village was numb that day. We are all in Christmas mood and this acquittal seems to have spoilt the party of many,” thinks Clara.
“Either the judge has failed or the investigating officers, and I am inclined to believe it is the investigative officers. The judge obviously based the judgment on the facts presented and it now appears the investigation was completely botched,” thinks Ruby D’souza as she grooms her hair with her two daughters around.
“Nagale was my friend and she used to come in the evening to play with me. I really don’t have any memories of that day but the fact that my friend died,” murmurs Ruby’s daughter. “It is sad that the person responsible for her death is let free,” she added.
“The judgment now is not going to bring the dead back. We have a bridge now and we have already had a tragedy on it in the form of an accident involving two vehicles. First, it was a tragedy in the river, hope we won’t have a tragedy on the bridge,” says resident Anthony Lobo.
The memoir built in memory of the six victims is normally visited by the kin and sometimes a villager will light a candle or do the sign of the cross in memory of the deceased. It’s not a tragedy that the villagers of Calvim will forget easily. As the bells will toll to mark the birth of Jesus, for a few it will bring back memories of good times with their living angels.