Ever one to smile, Aarushi Talwar loved pirouetting in her school's corridors. For her close friends, the teenager was a normal fun-loving girl who came from a happy background - quite contrary to the sordid picture the police painted about her family in the wake of her murder and that of a domestic help, a crime for which her father has been arrested.
With her considered to be one of the most popular girls of Class 9, her friends in Delhi Public School here find it difficult to believe the story the police have floated about her apparent closeness with the family's middle-aged servant Hemraj that led her dentist father Rajesh to kill them in cold blood on May 15.
“It is shocking and disappointing to see what is being spoken and written about her and her family. She was like any other normal teenager, had lots of friends and loved outings. She was full of life. Why don't they let her rest in peace?” asked one of Aarushi's close friends.
She said it was difficult to digest the fact that Aarushi could have had any kind of relations with her servant.
“She was sweet, friendly, polite and a well-mannered child. She was polite to the helpers in school, so I can imagine she was so with her servant. I think this has been misinterpreted and exaggerated,” the friend told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“All stories are false. We know it is not true. She had a boyfriend. And I know she had no physical relations with anyone. She was not at all that kind of girl. She had pride,” the friend said, referring to the police statement that her father found her in an “objectionable but not compromising position with Hemraj” that drove him to the extreme step of killing them both.
About Aarushi's parents, the friend said: “They were not at all narrow-minded people. They were very nice people. They allowed her freedom - freedom to have friends, freedom to go out for lunches, movies and shopping. As she was the only child, it was clear that her parents doted on her. But she was not a spoilt child.”
Finding it difficult to believe that Aarushi, who would have turned 16 last Saturday, is no more, the friend said she and the others have yet to come to terms with the loss.
“It (her death) has still not sunk in. But I know, when we will return to school after the summer break, the first few days would seem lonely without her,” the friend said.
Aarushi's friends now plan to have a small garden named in her memory.
“When we all friends would meet in school, we will sit and decide how we could cherish her memory. Maybe, we could name a small garden after her in the school,” the friend said.
For Aarushi's friends, the school's corridors would seem barren without her.
“Whenever we were free, she would be dancing on her toes, or teaching some of us how to take a spin,” the friend said about Aarushi, who was taking dance lessons from an expert, Ashley Lobo, and had opted for German as one of her languages in school.
Remembering how excited Aarushi was about her birthday, the friend said: ”She had left a note on her desk reminding her friends about her birthday.”
On her desk were words: “Hey guys, my birthday is 15 days away….”
The best time they shared, the friend said, was when they would slip away to a corner to gossip about teachers and clothes - and boys.
What Aarushi's close friends would miss the most would be gorging on the contents of her lunch box.
“She used to bring amazing lunches. From pizza to macaroni to corn. All of it was junk food, but we used to jump when she opened her lunch box and we would empty it fast,” the friend recalled.
“I loved her smile, her beautiful eyes and her curly hair. I remember one day she had her hair straightened and she asked me: 'Do you still love my hair?' I will never forget her and she will always be part of all my happy memories of my childhood,” the friend said.