Agniva Kolay recounts the bus mishap at his home on Friday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Agniva Kolay, 14, kept asking his father to be careful as he drove them home from Charnock Hospital on Thursday evening. When a motorcycle veered into the path of the car, the boy cried out to alert his father.
“I have never seen my son react like this. The bike was some distance in front and there was no chance of a collision, yet he alerted me,” said Abhijit Kolay, who runs a business.
Such has been the impact of the Delhi Public School Megacity bus overturning on Rajarhat Expressway on Thursday afternoon on the 31 young passengers who were trapped inside.
Agniva, one of the 31, was released after treatment from the hospital off VIP Road but would need to recuperate before he can return to school.
His schoolmate Anwesha Barua would have to wait for her mental scars to heal.
“I escaped unhurt but the thought of how bad it could have been is sending shivers down my spine. Going back to school down the same route would be scary. I need time to settle down,” she said.
The Class IX student remembers most vividly the sound with which the bus toppled over in its bid to avoid hitting a minitruck that had braked suddenly.
“I held on to my seat with all my strength as the bus tilted on one side… I could also see my friends somehow holding on. I remember being worried about where my younger brother Antarikash was and calling out to him. I could not leave the bus without him… it was a nightmare,” she said, sitting in her home in a Northern Avenue complex.
“I rushed to the spot immediately and was worried sick after seeing the overturned bus. On reaching the hospital, I found that by god’s grace my children were not injured. Anwesha was sitting by the window. Anything could have happened,” said the siblings’ father, Abhijit Barua.
Of the 12 children from the Northern Avenue complex who were in the bus, only one attended school on Friday. The route 41 school bus that met with the mishap takes Rajarhat Expressway to VIP Road. It touches Lake Town and Paikpara before dropping students on Northern Avenue.
Satadru De of Class X, nursing shoulder and elbow injuries, could not sleep well on Thursday night.
“I was chatting with my friend when the bus turned turtle. I was bleeding profusely from my left ear. I crawled out through the window and then helped my friend Sukalpa Nandi. The blood and the images of the bus overturning haunted me through the night,” he said.
Psychologists feel post-accident trauma is natural for children who were involved in the mishap.
“It is probably their first adverse experience. They would need time and support from peers and parents to get over the trauma,” said Tapashi Mitra, a psychologist at the Institute of Child Health.
Parents are unanimous about the need for traffic safety measures. “There should be speed breakers and traffic policemen should patrol Rajarhat Expressway,” said Abhijit Kolay.
The school voiced the same concern. “There should be more monitoring on the expressway and steps should be taken to check the speed of vehicles,” said Indrani Sanyal, the principal of the school.
“We are in constant touch with the students and parents. All academic support is being provided to those who cannot attend school because of injury,” she added.