Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
"Nelima loved me a lot, and had been telling me to visit her for the last few days. She called me and said, 'Mumma, you come, we will go out,' and so we came to Delhi...We didn't know our child would call us here and will go away herself," said a mournful Anupama Pathak, seated inside a house in Rohini's Rama Vihar, surrounded by grieving relatives.
Her daughter, 16-year-old Nelima Tiwari, was crushed under the wheels of a Bolero car on 6 June morning while she was cycling to school. The incident took place on main Khanjawala road in Delhi's Rohini district.
While Nelima lived in Delhi with her grandparents, an aunt and an uncle, her parents lived in Uttar Pradesh's Etah, and frequently visited her. On Nelima's insistence, they arrived in Delhi for a short trip on 5 June, Sunday. Little did they know that they will lose their daughter the next day.
The driver of the Bolero has been arrested.
“The accused driver, Vijay Pal, took them to the hospital but then absconded. He was traced and arrested with the aid of CCTV footage,” Pranav Tayal DCP (Rohini) said, according to The Indian Express, said.
It was a routine morning at Nelima's house, and like other days, she left home at 6.30 am on her cycle, with her friend Baby, on 6 June. Together, they cycled to their school SKV Karala – 1.25 km from their home – and by noon, the two would have been back.
While Nelima is no more, Baby is recuperating in a hospital. Baby suffered serious injuries but subsequently regained consciousness, if only fleetingly at first and just to inquire about Nelima.
"A little before 7 am, Baby's father came to our home to tell us that the girls had met with an accident and told us to rush to Cygnus Hospital in Rama Vihar. It was only when we reached there that we found out that Nelima had passed away," her aunt Hemlata Tiwari, who, along with her husband Avinash, was Nelima's local guardian in Delhi.
According to Avinesh, Nelima's body was mutilated in the accident. Only her eyes remained unhurt, which her family has since donated to Dr Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital-Eye Bank, her grandfather Akhilesh Tiwari told The Quint.
"Nelima was always so helpful and generous, so it just made sense to donate her eyes," the grandfather said.
Tutored Others, Enjoyed Making Videos
Excellent in studies, a tutor to some girls, good dancer, and a keen reel-maker on Instagram, Nelima, like most children her age, had a variety of interests. "She was also the class monitor," recalled her aunt Hemlata.
Two days after the accident left behind a bereft family, The Quint visited Nelima's home in Delhi. Apart from grieving relatives, there was also Tanisha, a 12-year-old girl from the neighbourhood, whom Nelima taught in her spare time.
"She tutored me in math before my exams. She used to say that she is weak in math but taught me well," said Tanisha.
Apart from studying together, Nelima and Tanisha cycled, danced, and made "videos together" for social media. In most of the videos, she can be seen dancing to popular Bollywood songs or mouthing lyrics to them. Baby also featured in one of her videos.
"She was fascinated by media, but little did I know that this is how her photo and name will appear in the media," said the 16-year-old girl's grandmother Manorama Tiwari.
Nelima's dream was to either join the police force or become an IAS officer, added her grandmother.
Close to her grandparents and uncle and aunt, Nelima had spent a good chunk of her life with them in Delhi, away from her parents. Nelima's mother Anupama lives in Uttar Pradesh's Etah with her husband. When she had two children at short intervals, Anupama's parents brought Nelima with them to Delhi to take care of her while Anupama was occupied with the newborn.
"We have no children of our own, and we raised Nelima like our own daughter," said her uncle Avinash.
Nelima's uncle Avinash is an auto-driver. Grieving his loss, he said:
"We have lost our child, what can we do now? But the government should ensure that there's no repeat of this."
"Within Karala itself (where the incident took place), this is the fourth such case that we are hearing of in the last few years," claimed Nelima's uncle. "Prior to Nelima, we had heard that a girl from Begumpur has died there. Before lockdown a girl from Jain Nagar and a girl from Karala had also passed away in the same region."
"Where were the traffic police personnel when the incident occurred?" he asked in reference to the accident that took his neice's life. "A car shouldn't be allowed to rush at such high speed so early in the morning."
Pointing out that the child grew up amid financial constraints in their home, the uncle said that he had hopes for her bright future. "The government should help us now," he added, a little hesitantly.
Meanwhile, on being asked how Nelima would refer to her, aunt Hemlata said:
"She used to call me anything. Sometimes she would say Mummy, sometimes she would say Maami (aunt), but we had the relationship of friends. We could talk about everything."