They could not trace my husband’s body for 24 hours. What kind of search operations were these?” sobbed Vijayalakshmi Reddy, widow of the late
chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, as close friends and relatives went up to offer their condolences late Thursday evening.
Sacred chants from the Bhagawad Gita filled the air as gates were opened to let people pay their last respects to YSR at the camp office in Begumpet, close to where the ill-fated helicopter took off on it stragic journey.
The body of YSR was placed in a glass case and wrapped in a white sheet. Most visitors who came to pay their last respects filed past it while some were allowed to circumambulate. Only Congress party workers were allowed access to the camp office and security was tight.
Prominent industrialists, actors and relatives then moved on to the sprawling residence, separated from the camp office by a wall, to offer their condolences to his inconsolable wife. Security here was more relaxed.
Vijayalakshmi was sitting on her bed in a blue saree beside her daughter, clasping the hands of a pastor who was praying to the Almighty to grant her courage to overcome the tragedy.
She was seated in a dimly-lit room, about the size of a tennis court and located on the first floor. A few feet away from the bed were two tables, one of them stacked with photo albums of the family and another on which were about half-a -dozen sets of white dhotis and shirts, all neatly arranged.
Soon a small group of relatives joined the prayers in YSR’s inner quarters, remembering the good times they spent with him. In the eulogy, the pastor described YSR as a man with no enemies, someone who had not even hurt a fly and a person who lived his life just to serve people.
“Let him come in your dreams and guide you,” he told the heartbroken widow, who wailed that she wished she had gone before her husband.
“Whenever I turn on the television, I only see his smiling face”, she said, even as her daughter Sharmila persuaded her to rest. The family had spent a sleepless night after YSR’s chopper went missing over the Nallamala forest near Kurnool.
Close relatives of YSR, who frequented his house, looked at each electronic gadget or a rocking-chair and fondly remembered him. “Your husband meant well for the people. He will always be remembered and you must be brave now,” consoled an elderly relative.
While Vijayalakshmi was overwhelmed with grief, her son YS Jaganmohan Reddy was on the ground floor for the most part. He graciously accepted the condolences as he saw off relatives and well-wishers.