“I miss our after-dinner and early-morning trips. Every single corner of our house reminds me of Shubham,” recalls Ashutosh.
Until a few years ago, a father, Ashutosh had a daily ritual with his son, Shubham. After dinner, they would step out, take the car, and drive to the ice-cream shop nearby, or explore other dessert options. On other days, they would drive off in the mornings for breakfast.
These trips were their way of leaving all their worries behind and bonding over food.
That was nine years ago before Ashutosh lost Shubham to a bike accident. His son was just 16 at the time. And since then, it has been these little things, like their everyday routine, their endless conversations, and Shubham’s smallest habits that remind Ashutosh of him every day.
Shubham was a class 12 student at Modern School, Lucknow, when one day, on his way back home, he met with a fatal accident. “It was on July 15, 2010. I got a call from someone, telling me that my son was in the hospital. He was travelling back home with his friend, who was riding the scooter. They were just half a kilometre from home and about to cross the bridge when the incident took place. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered serious injuries because of that,” recalls Ashutosh, who now lives in Lucknow with his wife and two daughters.
Ashutosh was working as a public relations officer in another hospital at the time. He continues, “Owing to Shubham’s critical condition, we couldn’t even move him here. After a while, he succumbed to his injuries.”
It was the biggest loss of his life, and it broke him.
“For a long time, I did not want to know what had happened to my son. I just knew that it might not have happened if he had been wearing a helmet. I had lost him and was devastated beyond words,” he shares
Shubham was smart, a good child, who wanted to become a corporate lawyer and was already preparing for it, shares the father. Despite his overwhelming grief, Ashutosh was slowly trying to channel it towards something bigger and more meaningful.
Then, five months later, he started the ShubhamSoti Foundation in Lucknow. The organisation works towards creating awareness about traffic rules, emphasising the need to wear a helmet. Through road safety sessions, quizzes, and helmet distribution drives, Ashutosh helps prevent many such Shubham’s from losing their lives. According to the Road Accident Report 2017, at least 98 two-wheeler riders without helmets lost their lives daily. And, the trend hasn’t waned much in the last two years.
“I knew I had to do something, not just to honour my son, but also to prevent something like this from happening to anyone. No parent, no person deserves this. My son, if alive, would have made me proud,” he says.
Through his Foundation, Ashutosh reaches out to youngsters, especially school students, to educate them about road safety, so that they, in turn, spread it among their friends and parents. From walkathons, helmet distribution drives, ‘Don’t Drink & Drive’ campaigns, to safe bike riding rallies, Ashutosh has dedicated his entire life for the cause.
Adding that kids often teach their parents, Ashutosh recalls a fond memory about his son.
Taking his efforts on road safety awareness further, Ashutosh has been approaching several schools in Lucknow to appoint student representatives as Traffic Marshalls. Through them, he hopes that his message will percolate younger generations for a safer tomorrow.
In the last nine years, he has been tirelessly fighting for this cause, without much aid. Despite no funds from the government or even private organisations, he continues to fund these events from his pocket.
“My son would often tell me that I was his best friend. It was the same for me. We had an exceptional relationship, and through this Foundation, I am keeping it alive. People say that time heals, but I can vouch that it doesn’t. His absence, the void is always there and will continue as long as I live. And so, I will continue this work till my last breath,” this father says, in a heartfelt declaration.
Whenever we lose a loved one, we experience an incomparable sadness and feeling of loss and
love like Ashutosh did. Often, many people are not able to share their feelings with others and are unable to cope with their loss.
With its initiative called ‘The Memory Project’, HDFC Life is building a community and support group where people can share their memories and cope during difficult times. At their event, every memory and experience is brought to life through heartfelt performances by artists who understand the sorrow of losing a loved one. The Memory Project aims to help people go beyond sorrow and cherish the lives of their loved ones lost.
The project is a reminder that the memories that our loved ones leave behind hold many lessons, a lot of meaning, incredible strength, and the power to help us move forward. Like Ashutosh, several people channel these memories into creating something new, something that makes them strong while also impacting so many others. And that displays the power of a single memory.
By creating a platform for people to share and celebrate these memories, HDFC Life’s project is helping them cope up with the loss, but more importantly, giving a chance to relive the beautiful memories they created with their loved ones. Do you have a memory of a loved one, the little things from their life that remind you of them every day? What memories and valuable lessons did they leave behind that you have taken with you ahead in your life?
Tell us about the little thing that reminds you of the one that has gone away and share your stories with The Memory Project at www.thememoryproject.in