Tucked into a corner of a chawl in Vakola is a locked room. At first glance, it does not seem big enough for even one person. But this is where the family of Indrani Mukerjea’s driver Shyamwar Rai lives. A week ago, Rai was a “quiet man”, today he is a pariah.
Rai’s wife Sharda arrives with her seven-year-old daughter and three-month-old son, whom she holds in her arms. Sharda looks pale and as she walks towards her house, her neighbours at Vakola’s Hanuman Tabela chawl watch with curiosity and slight animosity.
Sharda enters her room, making it a point not to make eye contact with anyone. “I do not have a version to present. I only know he drove for his maalik (employer) and I am not aware what he did apart from that,” she said. Sharda is joined by another woman — her daughter’s teacher, the only one supporting her.
Even Rai’s own brother has refused to call him his sibling, neighbours said. When HT contacted his brother Viren, at first he denied knowing Shyamwar. He later admitted he is his elder brother.
“I have two small children. I don’t have anything to say in this matter. I am not in touch with his family,” said Viren.
Rai and his family have been living in the chawl since 2011. Sharda said she hasn’t been able to meet her husband since his arrest. “Where will I leave my children?.”
The neighbours said there was something odd about Sharda’s behaviour. “She would always give her name to the landlord while renting the room, not her husband’s. Even the water connection is in her name. We did not know who Shyamwar was until last week,” a neighbour said.