Keenan’s father, Valerian Santos, reacts to the conviction of the four men who killed his son
“Come quickly, Keenan has been stabbed.” Once he heard those words, life would never be the same again for Valerian Santos, who lost his son on that fateful day in October 2011. The only solace was that Keenan had died a hero’s death.
Valerian Santos (right) said his 91-year-old mother wanted to slap the killers. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
“I don’t feel sad, I feel proud. He stood for whatever I taught him and fought for what was right, saving those girls. People ask why he had to be the hero, they say he should have run from there, but Keenan and I would both have felt guilty if he had not helped his friends that night,” said the 57-year-old.
“I had just had dinner when one of his friends called and said ‘Come quickly, Keenan has been stabbed’. The spot where it happened was very close to our house. I rushed there and saw the girls crying, as Keenan was taken to Kokilaben hospital,” he recalled.
When he went to the hospital, the doctor said he couldn’t feel Keenan’s pulse. “I told him to do his best and leave the rest to God. When the doctor came back the fourth time, it was to tell me that my son was no more. I didn’t cry then; I had decided that I was going to fight this,” said Valerian. “I have not cried in four years, since the day Keenan passed away, but when the court passed the sentence, I could not control my tears. I am very happy today, there are four less criminals on the street,” he said.
What about Keenan’s 91-year-old grandmother? “She says she just wants to slap them; even if she would have to be hanged for it later, she wouldn’t mind,” said Valerian.
Valerian also praised the judiciary and Judge Vrushali Joshi in particular, recounting an anecdote from court. “I used to regularly attend court, but one day, my mother wanted to attend as well. I brought her to court, but the prosecution said the hearing would have to be postponed, as the accused could not appear. The judge pointed to my mother and said if a 91-year-old can come to court, then even the accused can be presented, at least via video conferencing,” he said.
‘It’s hard to cross that road’
Reuben’s mother, Brigida Fernandez (68) said, “The punishment by the court will be enough for the accused. It is very difficult to think about that day. Even that spot is so close to our home, it’s difficult to even cross the road without the memories flooding back. We miss him a lot. But nothing can be done about it now; we have accepted it.”
Reuben, a civil engineer, was the backbone of his family. Like Keenan, Reuben too was kind and had a keen sense of what was right. He would go out of his way to help people, especially when it came to senior citizens or women. He was also crazy about football and bikes. “At first, we did not believe it, when my younger son, Benjamin told me Reuben was hurt, I thought it was a small bike accident. It was only when I reached the hospital that I realised what had happened,” she added.
“On his first death anniversary, we had lunch with all his friends and family. Since then, we go to mass each year, to pray. We miss him a lot, and even today, there are moments when we wonder what he would be doing if he were here today. But nothing can be done about it now; we have accepted it.”