Khasokhas Weekly

Purushottam Panthi shows a photo of his late son. (Khasokhas Weekly)

Read the original story in Nepali at Khasokhas Weekly
Translated and condensed by Anuz Thapa

“I don’t feel like going to his bedroom at all,” said Purushottam Panthi, with a lump in his throat.

On January 7, his 10-year-old son Shree Panthi was killed after he was hit by a city sanitation truck in Queens. He was on his way to school with his mother, Mina, when both were struck. They were rushed to a nearby hospital, but doctors could not help save Shree. His mother is still hospitalized.

January 7 became an ill-fated day for Panthi’s family. What he went through, as a father and a husband, is indescribable. 

“His things at home always reminds me of him. That is why I cannot even go to his bedroom,” said Panthi, during a ritual held to mark the 45th day of his son’s death.

“See these stickers, they were all posted by him,” said Panthi, pointing at the laptop covered with a number of stickers.

“This is where he slept. These are who he slept with,” said the father, pointing at Shree’s bed and dolls. He remained silent staring at the bed.

His wife Mina has been in hospitalized since the accident. He goes to the hospital everyday with home-cooked food for her, and spends hours next to her bed. These days, he spends most of his nights at the hospital.

“Ever since we lost Shree, I have not been able to sleep without medicine. Doctors told me that my blood pressure is high,” said Panthi. He has had many sleepless nights since the January crash, as he is preparing for a legal battle against the city.

He has not been able to go back to work yet. He just managed to gain the courage to start driving a few weeks ago. He said, “I don’t have any option than being patient.”

He opened the gallery on his cellphone, where there are hundreds of Shree’s photos.

“He was not only my son; he was also my friend. I used to ask for his suggestions for all my work. We used to compete with each other on poetry,” said Panthi, playing a video of Shree reciting a poem. “He watched videos on space on YouTube. And we used to debate on space science. I used to write poems sometimes and he used to compete with me.”

It is Shree’s birthday soon. He was born on March 21, 2009 in Nepal, and was about two years old when Panthi left him in Nepal to come to the U.S. Shree came to the U.S. at the age of four along with his mother and elder brother, Pranjol. 

He was admitted in to pre-k at a school on 76th Street in Jackson Heights, and was a fifth grader in Forte Preparatory Academy in his last days.

Shree had learned Nepali from his grandparents in Nepal. He loved reading, and wanted to be a space scientist. He never went to bed without books, and used to watch movies about science and follow Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and other’s works. Shree enjoyed dancing and loved delivering speeches. He was fond of helping people.

“He used to tell me that he would go to his homeland Nepal to involve in social works,” his father said.

Panthi is planning to register a nonprofit organization in memory of his son. In addition to those in the Nepalese community, others have also sent their condolences, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“I am always grateful to those who have prayed for our family,” he said.

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