Mumbai: She escaped the Kalbadevi fire, but not the aftermath

The Mandavkars were on a trip to their hometown in Ratnagiri when their residence at Gokul Niwas was burnt down in the Kalbadevi inferno; 19-year-old Mayuri, a TYBSc student, has decided to discontinue her studies to make ends meet for the family

With her home destroyed in the Kalbadevi inferno, Mayuri Mandavkar (19) says she is left with no other option but to give up her education so that she can fund her siblings’ studies and contribute towards household expenses. The Mandavkars resided in Gokul Niwas building, which was engulfed by the inferno on May 9.

Shantaram and Mayuri Mandavkar (seated) say that they have to start over from scratch. Mayuri’s mother Sheetal looks on. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Shantaram and Mayuri Mandavkar (seated) say that they have to start over from scratch. Mayuri’s mother Sheetal looks on. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Residents of the fourth floor of the building, the entire family was in their hometown Ratnagiri when the fire engulfed their house. “Fortunately, we were not at home during the incident, otherwise someone in the family would have been injured, as the only staircase that we could have used to evacuate was completely engulfed in the fire,” said Mayuri.

Mayuri Mandavkar has been forced to give up her studies as she feels her siblings’ education is far more important at the moment
Mayuri Mandavkar has been forced to give up her studies as she feels her siblings’ education is far more important at the moment

Besides the Pols, the Mandavkars were the only other residents of Gokul Niwas. With the eventual collapse of the building, the Mandavkars lost everything. “I rushed back the very next day, only to find debris where my house stood once. I must have incurred losses worth almost R20 lakh, which were my life earnings,” said Shantaram Mandavkar, Mayuri’s father.

Ashes to ashes
Mayuri said that with everything lost, it’s been difficult to start life from scratch. She has thus chosen to give up her education and take up a job at the moment. “We have been going through a major financial crisis since the incident. Whatever my father had been saving has turned to ash.

All that is left with us are a few sets of clothes that we had packed and taken to our village,” said Mayuri who lives with her parents, uncle, two sisters and a brother. The survivor, currently in her TYBSc at Wilson College, says she will not attend college when the next semester begins as she feels her siblings’ education is far more important at the moment.

“My younger sister will appear for her HSC examination this year and my younger brother is still in the seventh standard. My father is already struggling to pay their tuition fees. At this point of time, their education is far more important,” said Mayuri, adding that her college timings will not allow her to take up even a part-time job while continuing her studies.

Shantaram, who works as a salesman in a spectacles shop in Nallasopara, earns R15,000 a month. “I don’t want her to skip her education, but given our financial condition, she wants to help me out,” said Shantaram, who added that his elder daughter has recently got a job as a trainee at a textile company’s office near Kalbadevi.

Trying times
The initial days after the incident proved to be a trying period for the Mandavkars. “When the BMC was sorting through the debris, we noticed a few of our vessels kept aside by them. Some of them were badly burnt but I washed them till they were almost fit to use.

We sold a few that could not be used at all, and got a few new ones in exchange,” said Sheetal, Mayuri’s mother. She adds that later, the family also brought a few vessels from their village in Ratnagiri. The family had recently spent around Rs 3 lakh on the renovation of their house. “We had done a complete renovation of our house from tiling to the doors. I spent almost R3 lakh on it. I never knew what my fate had in store for me,” said Shantaram.

Living in a transit home at Standard Mill Compound along with the Pols, the Mandavkars kept their emotions at bay and participated in Priyanka Pol’s marriage with full enthusiasm, “Though we have been going through a rough phase, Priyanka has been my childhood friend. I am so happy her marriage took place exactly the way it was planned,” said Mayuri.

Want to help?
Contact Mayuri at mandavkarmayuri@yahoo.in

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