| Poonam tries to console her mother Rekha at their residence in Mumbai on Thursday. (PTI) See Nation
Mumbai, May 4: Prabhavati’s cheek rubbed against the lid of the silver coffin lovingly, as if she was caressing her son, as she would have done countless times in the past.
Prabhavati would not let go, her tired body had collapsed on the hard surface under which lay her eldest son, Pramod, shot by her youngest, Praveen, awaiting trial.
In the jostle of ministers ' past and present ' businessmen and celebrities, the mother snatched this very private moment with her dead son until she was gently pulled away.
Twenty-one guns echoed thrice in unison and police bugles played the Last Post before son Rahul lit the funeral pyre at a central Mumbai crematorium this afternoon.
Every BJP leader was present, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who appeared to be having a great deal of trouble walking possibly because of his weakened knees, and every member of the Mahajan family, almost.
No one had come from Thane, where Praveen’s family lives. Not his wife, Sarangi, whom Mahajan was said to have chosen as his brother’s bride. Nor his son Kapil who offered prayers at a local temple last Monday, wishing for Mahajan’s recovery.
Sarangi was reported to be unwell as her blood pressure had shot up after she heard the news of Mahajan’s death.
Kapil’s visit to the temple was the only occasion when someone from the family has been seen outside the heavily-guarded flat in the apartment block Jinja in recent days. No one has called on Praveen either since the April 22 morning when he pumped three bullets into Mahajan in his upscale Worli flat.
Yesterday, when Mahajan was in his last hours, Praveen was moved from the police lock-up at Agripada to Arthur Road jail around 1.30 pm.
His lawyer Nandkumar Rajurkar, who met Praveen last, said: “When I met him, the news of Mahajan’s demise had not come in. Praveen requested for a separate cell in prison. He was given one. He is not entitled to a TV and hasn’t been given one.”
This means he wouldn’t have seen their mother collapse, nor his sister-in-law Rekha ' Mahajan’s wife who was the sole witness to the shooting ' break down. Or his other brother, Prakash, and sisters Pratibha and Pradnya grieve. Or Mahajan’s daughter and his niece Poonam crying in the arms of her brother.
Rahul, a pilot, was remarkably composed as he hugged Vajpayee, almost as if consoling him, and as he lit the pyre, in a white shirt and jeans.
With BJP chief Rajnath Singh, the Thakur who made no secret of his grief, crying behind the flimsy cover of his palms, Rahul had earlier helped the Tricolour-covered cortege on to the flower-bedecked truck that then wound its way from the Mahajan residence to the crematorium. “Pramod Mahajan amar rahe”, “Jab tak sooraj chand rahega, Mahajan tera naam rahega” ' his supporters shouted.
At the crematorium, the entire BJP pantheon sat in the VIP enclosure. Even Sangh chief K.S. Sudarshan made an appearance, though Mahajan was not a favourite son. Sonia Gandhi, whom Mahajan had compared to Monica Lewinsky, sent a representative, too.
Only Praveen, police sources said, had shown no remorse since April 22.