Kottayam: When Hemalatha was walking towards the school at Puthuppally in Kottayam district to write the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) on Sunday, it was raining heavily.
It had been over a month since her parents and 19 other relatives were killed by the deadly landslide at Pettimudi in Rajamala of Idukki district.
Her father Ganeshan was a temporary driver of the forest department at the Eravikulam National Park. Hemalatha, who aspires to be a doctor, had joined for plus-two at the Pattom Government Model Girls' Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram to better focus on her studies.
Hemalatha and her sister Gopika stayed with her paternal cousin Lekha in Thiruvananthapuram. Lekha, the daughter of Ganesh's sister Chandra, is a staff nurse at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. Hemalatha and her sister were in Thiruvananthapuram when disaster struck on August 6. Over 60 people were killed and at least five reported missing after the massive landslide buried a row of houses that belonged to tea estate workers.
The sisters are back in Munnar and are staying at Chandra's house. They are yet to go to the disaster site. But will go on Tuesday for the 41-day rites - to the area where they grew up playing but has now been reduced to a debris of death and devastation.