Family grieves a life cut short

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  • Kiran Darjee, the second-oldest boy in a family of six sons, died unexpectedly on July 2 when the car he was driving went off Interstate 89 in Warner. Courtesy

  • Brother Rajesh Darjee (left) and father Bir Bdr Darjee reflect about Kiran Darjee under a portrait of him in the family apartment on Loudon Road in Concord on Friday, July 9, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ambikh Darjee sits on the floor of the family home. She is following the Hindu tradition of mourning for 12 days, with the help of family and friends, after the death of her son, Kiran.  GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Prakash Darjee (second from right) reflects on his cousin, Kiran Darjee, as relatives and friends gather after his death. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Kiran Darjee’s little brother Bibas, 11, reflects on his time with his brother at the family apartment in Concord.

  • Kiran Darjee’s parents, Bir Bdr Darjee and Ambikh Darjee, gather in their apartment to talk about their son on Friday. Ambika sits on the floor rather than on a couch or chair, as part of the 12-day mourning period in the Hindu tradition.

  • Ambikh Darjee sits on the floor of the family home in accordance with Hindu tradition of mourning for 12 days, with the help of family and friends after the death of her son, Kiran. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ambikh Darjee, Kiran Darjee’s mother, is comforted by family and friends as she lost consciousness at his funeral on Thursday, July 8, 2021 at Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord. Concord paramedics came and revived her, and she was able to come back to the burial. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ambikh Darjee, Kiran Darjee’s mother (right), is comforted by family and friends at his funeral on Thursday at Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord. There were over 150 participants at the funeral for the 21-year-old who died in a car accident on July 2 in Warner. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Ambikh Darjee, Kiran Darjee’s mother, (right) is comforted by family and friends at his funeral on Thursday, July 8, 2021 at Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord. There were over 150 participants at the funeral for the 21-year-old who died in a car accident on July 2 in Warner. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/10/2021 4:00:12 PM

The Darjee family’s small apartment in Concord was full of relatives Friday morning, some cooking in the kitchen, others coming and going through the open door to the hallway, strewn with shoes. Rajesh Darjee sat with his father, Bir Bdr Darjee, on a long sofa at one end of the room.

A single air conditioner whirred in the corner, and the sound of video games could be heard from one of the bedrooms, where the younger children played.

Some of the relatives live nearby, others had come from out of state to support the family in a time of grief.

It had been a week since Kiran Darjee, former Concord High School student and the second-oldest boy in a family of six sons, died unexpectedly on July 2 when the car he was driving went off Interstate 89 in Warner and crashed. Kiran, 21, and his friend, Raj Darjee, 18, were on their way to Vermont to pick up his girlfriend and return to New Hampshire, according to the family. Raj, the sole passenger, survived the crash with injuries.

The death of Kiran Darjee has left the Bhutanese Nepali community in Concord heartbroken, where he was well-known by many. Over 150 people showed up for the funeral, which was held Thursday at Blossom Hill Cemetery.

Ambikh Darjee, Kiran’s mother, was overcome with emotion at the services. A day later, she quietly sat on the floor on one side of the room with her back to the wall. According to Rajesh, she was observing a 12-day mourning period for her son in accordance with her Hindu religion, when she sits and sleeps only on the floor, wears simple clothing and eats food without salt that she cooks herself. The other family members, most of whom are Christian, have been mourning differently, through a funeral and burial service, and spending time together.

Kiran Darjee was a friendly, helpful young man, the family said, and as the oldest unmarried brother, he took care of “everything” at home.

“He is friendly, he could not keep any kind of bad thing inside,” said his older brother Rajesh. “He speaks openly with everybody, and he loves sport.”

Kiran enjoyed spending time with friends, playing soccer or volleyball in Keach Park or fishing in the Merrimack River. He always had a group of friends, and Rajesh said he would talk to anyone.

“When he saw people, he would always speak with them, no matter which country or which language,” Rajesh said. “He always loved them and they loved him.”

Kiran, like his brothers, grew up in Nepal and was came to Concord in November 2017, when he was 17 years old. He spoke minimal English when he arrived, and Rajesh said he was surprised at how quickly his brother had improved just three months after starting school.

“I was like, ‘really? How could you do that?’” Rajesh said. “He learned fast. That could help Mom to do everything.”

Kiran attended Concord High School for three years, where he played soccer and took math classes from Ghana Sharma, the school’s English Language Learners math tutor.

“He was pretty much a good guy. He was so talkative and funny,” Sharma said. “He was so active, he liked to talk a lot. He had a lot of friends.”

Despite his many friendships, Kiran did not love school, according to Rajesh, and dropped out in 2020 against his older brother’s advice.

“I said, ‘okay, whatever you want, but take care of Mom and work,’” Rajesh said. “He said, ‘okay.’ I don’t know what he is thinking about his future, but he is planning to do work. He said, ‘I am going to work, I am going to do something better for my family.’”

After leaving school, Kiran worked at Aissa Sweets on Hall Street with his cousin Prakash, making baklava. Later, he worked at Harvey Building Products in Manchester, which manufactures windows and doors. At home, Kiran would help his family by driving his mother around town. His little brother Bibas, 11, a fifth grader at Broken Ground School, said he enjoyed watching Indian movies with Kiran, who also used to give him money for ice cream at Arnie’s Place.

Kiran’s uncle, Deepak Mothey, said Kiran was always ready to lend a hand when anyone was moving houses or needed a ride somewhere.

“He was a friendly, kind and helpful person. He helped me a lot, like so many situations he would give me some help,” Mothey said. “I still remember him and [he is] so missed by this sudden departure.”

In Concord, Kiran was an active member of his church community, FaithBridge Church in Manchester, which serves the Bhutanese Nepali community.

“He was schooling, plus he was working, but he was good at coming to church and he was very supportive to others,” said Richard Das, a Concord pastor.

Kiran had a good voice and would often sing during church services, according to his family. He loved listening to rap, especially the music of Nepali artist VTEN. He would perform rap songs himself, and was working on a freestyle piece that he hoped to finish by the end of the year, according to Prakash.

Kiran also loved traditional Nepali dances he learned in school growing up, and would perform with his brothers at church and at the Concord Multicultural Festival.

The past week has been difficult for the Darjees. With so many relatives occupying the apartment, Rajesh said the police showed up at the door in response to a noise complaint. They’ve been trying to keep noise to a minimum since then. In addition, Rajesh said he was upset by a hurtful online comment directed toward his family about his brother’s death, which called people with his surname a “menace to society.”

“He is not a bad guy, he is a friendly guy. He is a strong guy and he is taking care of his family,” Rajesh said, about his brother. “All Darjee are not the same kind of mind. If somebody do wrong, the same-last-name people, they don’t do the same kind of thing.”

Through it all, the large, close-knit family has been supporting each other through companionship, and shared memories of Kiran.

“It is unfortunate that this is not the way he is supposed to go. You never expect that that will happen,” Das said. “We never expect that this will  be the end.”


Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.



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