It was an uneventful day for the 51-year-old Suman Bhatia, an economics lecturer at a Government College and resident of Mansarovar in Jaipur, when she received a call from the Consulate General of India informing that her only son Nikhil Bhatia was rescued from drowning in a lake in Texas and was admitted to a hospital. And even before Suman could digest the news, she was further informed that 24-year-old Nikhil was in the ICU battling coma.
Ms. Bhatia spoke to Catch News from Texas. “On Sunday, while I was waiting for my son's call like every other day, I received a phone from the Consulate General of India, Houston (Texas) instead. They informed me that my son is in a critical condition and has been admitted to ICU. I could not believe my ears. I immediately called up my husband and without wasting even a second took the earliest flight to Texas. This was the most difficult journey of my life.”
Nikhil was pursuing Masters in Public Health at the Texas A&M University. On Saturday he, along with a Delhi-based girl Shalini Singh, went for swimming in Lake Bryan. The two were about to drown in the lake after a hurricane hit the city, but were rescued by the officials. The duo was later admitted to the hospital. While Shalini continues to be in a critical condition, Nikhil succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.
Nikhil's father Pradeep Bhatia, who works in the Military Engineering Services (MES) in Jodhpur, added, “My son was always fascinated by water. He was studying Masters in Public Health. Water resources was one of his main subjects. It deals with flood management and rescue operations, and a few other issues related to water. It is an irony that he, who was learning to deal with water related calamities, himself became a victim to a hurricane. We are all in a state of shock.”
Nikhil was very close to his parents and thus, it was in fact a difficult decision for him to study overseas. “He was the most adorable and helpful child any parent could ever wish for. He was a blessing to us. He was extremely passionate about his studies and had completed his B.Tech from Vellore. Later, he travelled to Singapore, Canada, Mexico and other places for research work,” said Ms. Bhatia.
His teachers remember him as a sincere, dedicated and a helpful boy. Talking about Nikhil, one of his school teachers said, “Nikhil Bhatia was not only good at academics but was also a favorite among his teachers and peers. He was an intelligent boy and more than that, he was very kind with everyone at school. He was the head-boy at Jaipur’s St. Anselm's Pink City Senior Secondary School.”
Nearly 200 Indian students were rescued from the University of Houston campus by Consulate General on Tuesday. Some areas in Houston were deluged with more than 30 inches of rainfall in the last 72 hours, according to the latest figures from the National Weather Service (NWS). Berry B Forest Oaks in Harris County, Texas is considered to be the worst hit area.