Hospitals, VIP visits, police investigations and media glare — the first few days of the December 19 gang rape was a whirlwind for the 23-year-old victim’s family. Then came mourning, which took place at their native village in Uttar Pradesh.
Now, a yawning emptiness seemed to have engulfed the lives of the family — the parents and two brothers — as they boarded a police vehicle at the Delhi airport and quietly reached their Delhi home on Thursday night.
In the victim’s room on the first floor, her clothes lay strewn, books such as Neurology and Neurosurgery Illustrated and Principles of Exercises in Physiotherapy remained stacked neatly.
“When we reached home, we could not comprehend the bubbliest of us all would never be around us. Ma and we brothers broke down. Papa is learning not to… to give us strength,” said the 20-year-old elder brother of the victim.
As rain and hailstorm lashed the Capital in the wee hours, the family spent a sleepless night and battled their own storms in hearts.
Roofs of the both rooms upstairs and a room on the ground floor leaked because of rain even as a government officer came on Friday, took down some details and left. Two policemen from the local police station have been deployed around the house in case the family needs assistance.
“All her stuff, including the furniture she used, will remain as they are. Ma wanted to dispose them of but I have told her not to,” he said.
Photographer Raghu Rai and his Australian acquaintance visited the family and photographed the father. “Some neighbours also visited Papa. Not many people know that we have returned. That’s why we didn’t have too many visitors,” the brother said.
A month ago, the father was a loader at the Delhi airport, who toiled to provide a better future for his daughter and two sons.
Then December 16 happened. Overnight, he had a new, tragic identity -- the father of the gang-rape victim whose fate shook India to the core.
As residents of Delhi, they had read and heard about crime. They experienced its cruelty when it visited them that night.
“I have learnt that fast-track trial in the case will start on January 21. We hope it gets over soon and the culprits are punished,” the 53-year-old father said. “We will speak to police officers to know how the case is moving,” he said.
The house had been locked since the family left for their native village for mourning. They plan to do some cleaning and put up a photograph of the daughter in the house.
And live with her memories.