A subtle blend of resentment and deliverance swept across south Delhi’s Ravi Dass slum cluster in RK Puram on Monday afternoon. An aged couple sat huddled together in the sadness and darkness of a cramped room with a much-abused green door.
Ram Singh’s father Mange Lal and mother Rama Bai admittedly chose to wail and keep within the narrow vicinity of the house — lest they evoke any more taunts from their neighbours.
“And rightly so,” argued one of them, a housewife who wished not to reveal her name. “Is their son a war hero that news of his death should bring sadness to us? He got what he deserved and his parents will only get taunted if they choose to live among us any longer.”
Others, like a senior citizen, who claimed to have been residing in the slum for decades, simply stated that countries and societies were governed by laws, not providence.
“Yes, the case is in court and a judge is supposed to deliver a verdict. But God has already passed his own judgement. What can be worse than falling so low in your own eyes that you decide to end your life?”
But not everyone agreed with her. “Jaisi karni waisi bharni (You reap what you sow). Not on his own terms. Death is the punishment all of them deserve. But that should come only on orders by the state, that too at the end of lives spent sulking and repenting behind bars,” said a visibly angry Seema, another housewife.
Neighbours and local residents were visibly agitated at the slightest of mention of allowing Singh’s body to even enter their cluster’s vicinity.
“Last rites or no last rites - we’ll be damned if we even allow his shadow to fall on our locality again,” said Sonu, a resident. “We have already suffered too much disgrace. There’s no way his body will be allowed to enter this locality.”
For others, like 45-year-old Kamla, news of Singh’s suicide brought a sense of closure to an unsettled heart. “This was in a way similar to the news of the gang rape. It was around the same time — 7am — that we had found out about the gang rape on December 16, and today about his death. Life has come full circle.”