Where Jessica rests in peace

A day after the bubbly model's alleged tormentors were acquitted, Sujata B Shakeel visits her grave.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 15:38 IST

It's a world like no other. The dead rest here in peace. The living, come here to seek peace in their grief and for an answer to their most important question - 'Why'?

Cocooned between a row of neat black granite graves, at the capital's York Cemetery is a small grave, that, even in death, cries for attention.

Dusty and forlorn, with a wilted yellow calendula braving the afternoon sun, it is the resting place of the bubbly model the world knew as Jessica Lall.

'Shona,' as she was lovingly called, was only 34 years, says the tombstone and she left "suddenly under tragic circumstances on 30th April 1999, to give happiness and laughter in heaven as she did in her short life."

Cut in the prime of her life bya wanton bullet for refusing a drink, Jessica's grave is a mute testimony to the neglect that was destined to be her lot in her death.

Her alleged tormentors breathe easy and roam free, acquitted by the court for lack of evidence and shoddy investigation. Her family (an ailing father and an inconsolable younger sister) accept the verdict with a stoic resignation.

Her mother May Lall, whose grave is just a few tombstones away from her beloved daughter's, must be ruing the injustice and unfairness of it all. There have been no visitors for Jessica for many months now, informs John, one of the staffers, entrusted with the task of maintaining the 100-year-old graveyard.

The now dried calendula was also placed by a family, which had come to pay respects to their dear departed, he says. A fact reiterated by Birendra Singh, whose father Jordan Singh looked after the upkeep of the cemetery since the time of the British.

"Earlier friends and family members of Jessica would come on birthdays, death anniversaries or Christmas and Easter, but lately the visits have become few and far between," he said.

Not surprising that when the trials and tribulations of life and the living get difficult to deal with it's the dead who stand forgotten.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 20:27 IST