If Evil had ever looked in the mirror, it would have found the face of Ram Singh staring back.
It was a face that the neighbourhood women and children avoided casting their eyes on, a face hollowed out by hatred and, above all, one that never, ever, showed remorse.
Its owner had plenty to answer for. The 33-year old found hanging in his Tihar cell on Monday was widely seen as the ring-leader of the brutes who raped a young woman on a moving bus in December, a savage attack that led to her death a fortnight later.
Unlike a couple of the other five attackers, he never admitted his guilt or even tried to turn state witness in the hope of getting away. His father claimed fellow inmates had sexually assaulted his son. If all this was having an effect on him, it didn’t show in his behaviour until the end — sullen, cold and mostly silent.
Until that fateful, frenzied night of December 16, he lived an ugly life in south Delhi’s Ravi Das Camp, where he and his younger brother Mukesh - also implicated in the gang rape - had a reputation for drunken brawling.
Singh was known as ‘Mental’ to those in the colony for his wild behaviour. If he had needed any pushing over the edge, the death of his young wife after a prolonged illness may have contributed. He then eloped with a married woman from his locality, earning him more opprobrium from his neighbours.
Singh, his four brothers and his parents came to Delhi from Rajasthan, seeking a better life like all immigrants from the surrounding states. He was an early school dropout.
He got a job as a bus driver but early on in his career rammed his bus into a truck, a bad accident that left him with a permanently deformed arm and further embittered him as he had to endure the taunts of kids in his locality.
But he got back to driving. In fact, two days before the rape, he had used the bus on which the outrage happened to ferry children to school. The kids’ parents wouldn’t have known about his predilection for drink-fuelled rage or sexual violence, or even the fact that his new driver’s licence was fake. Or the fact that he pulled his mother by the hair and threw her out of his house one night.
Strangely for a man driven by anger, he was vulnerable enough to seek a child’s touch, adopting the young son of one of his brothers. The kid had visited him in jail; his parents used to visit every Wednesday. He seemed to have mellowed just a touch towards them.
But the emotions that defined his life were anger and hatred. The policemen who arrested him would gasp at the brutality of the first time jailbird.
His hanging cheats the rape victim’s family of real closure. And may have pre-empted punishment by the State.