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'Thought I'd never see my parents again: earthquake survivor Bhagyashree Dalvi

India U-14 girls' football team's only Mumbai player Bhagyashree Dalvi, who returned home on Monday, recounts the devastating earthquake in Kathmandu

Bhagyashree Dalvi, the only Mumbai player from the 18-member U-14 girls national football team that went to Kathmandu, Nepal to participate in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) regional championship, landed in the city on Monday.

India U-14 footballer Bhagyashree Dalvi (third from right) with her mother Hema (right) and father Swanand (second from right), grandparents Ghanshyam (left) and Anupama (second from left) and team physiotherapist Monika Tarkar at the Mumbai domestic airport yesterday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
India U-14 footballer Bhagyashree Dalvi (third from right) with her mother Hema (right) and father Swanand (second from right), grandparents Ghanshyam (left) and Anupama (second from left) and team physiotherapist Monika Tarkar at the Mumbai domestic airport yesterday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi 

It ended a 48-hour ordeal, beginning with a devastating earthquake that shattered Nepal around 12 noon on Saturday, an hour before the team's scheduled third-fourth place playoff at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu Bhagyashree's Air-India flight also carrying city-based team physiotherapist Dr Monika Tarkar, landed in Mumbai from New Delhi at 9:10am.

Eagerly awaiting their only child's arrival were Bhagyashree's parents, mother Hema and father Swanand along with grandparents Anupama and Ghanshyam. The 14-year-old choked as she went over and hugged her family at the Chhatrapati Shivaji domestic airport.

Unforgettable fear
She later opened up to mid-day. "I didn't know what was happening around me in Kathmandu. The only thing in my mind was whether I would ever be able to see my parents. It was an unforgettably frightening experience. Even when I reached home, I still felt that things around me were moving just like it was in Nepal," said the Class IX student of Ryan International, Sanpada going on to recount her ordeal: "When we reached the stadium for our match on Saturday, everything was fine.

But as soon as we finished warming up and returned to our dressing room, the lights went off. Suddenly, there were heavy winds blowing all across. The stadium began shaking and so did the ground. We were asked to sit in the middle of the ground for almost five hours, before we were taken in the team bus to the hotel at 5.30pm. There were cracks all across our hotel rooms, so we were advised to sleep on the hotel's lawns.

We were so scared, none of us slept a wink that night. The next morning, we were taken into Kathmandu airport from a special gate and boarded the Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft. The after-shock tremors were still being felt around us and that delayed our flight. With prayers on our lips, we boarded the plane which took off at 2.30pm and landed in New Delhi at 5.45 pm. We spent the night at a Delhi hotel and this morning, arrangements were made for the rest of us to travel to our homes."

A lavish spread, including her favourite dishes like manchow soup, paneer chilly, chicken lollypop and biryani greeted Bhagyashree at home, thanks to mum Hema. She then headed to her school where a rousing welcome awaited her.

'School prayed for us'
"When we were fighting for our lives in Nepal, my school principal Grace Pinto organised a prayer meeting for the entire team. It is because of their prayers that me and my teammates are alive today," she said. Meanwhile, physiotherapist Tarkar said she'll take a few days off before resuming work. "The incident has made me a lot stronger. It has taught me to respect life and value it," said Tarkar.

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