His face has lined overnight and he looks haggard, but he keeps a brave front before his family. The façade however shatters when he recalls his last meeting with his 23-year-old daughter, who was brutally gang-raped on a cold December night.
Tears are not far off and they fall freely. “I clearly remember our last meeting. She was lying on the bed in (Safdarjung)hospital. She gestured for me to come closer and asked me whether I had eaten. When I nodded, she told me to sleep. She then held my hand and kissed it,” said the distraught father of the dead trainee physiotherapist.
“I can never forget that moment because it was the last time I got a chance to talk to her. Then her condition worsened, and she was later on the same day flown to Singapore. I never got a chance again,” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Sitting in his modest two-bedroom house in southwest Delhi, the 53-year-old, throughout the interaction, kept his eyes fixed on the photograph of his daughter, who died in a Singapore hospital December 29 last year, 13 days after she was gang-raped in a moving bus. Life has come to a standstill for the family. But the father now hopes for justice. “I want the six rapists to hang. Nothing less will be acceptable,” he said.
The unplastered brick house, in which they has been living for 25 years since he left his hometown in Ballia, UP, seems empty to them, as the young woman, who was a first-born, is no there to light up their lives. “Oh God! Why did I ever come to Delhi?” said the teary-eyed father, who works as a porter at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Recalling the fateful night of December 16, he said he sensed something was wrong when he found his daughter had switched off her mobile phone. “She had cooked food for us. After lunch, I left for work. She also left and told her mother that she will be back by evening.
When she did not return by 8 pm, we got worried. But after 9 pm when we found her mobile was switched off, we felt something wrong had happened because she never used to do that. As soon as I returned home at night, I received a call from Safdarjang Hospital regarding the incident,” he said. He blames himself for his daughter’s fate. “Meri hi kisi galti ki saja meri beti ko mil gai,” he said during the hour-long interaction.