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January 1, 2000
'Where is he? Why isn't he here to see me...'
Neena Haridas in New Delhi
Rachna Katyal hasn't taken off the red-and-white bangles, the quintessential mark of a bride. A bride never takes off her bangles -- they are supposed to wear off, to be replaced by new ones. But not so for Rachna, who sleeps under heavy sedation at the Katyal residence in Gurgaon.
Rachna, Rupin Katyal's bride of 23 days, returned home a widow after her honeymoon in Kathmandu. There is no rationale to her destiny. The Katyals can't see rationale in anything for that matter. Rachna's uncle stands guard at the house warding off nosy newspersons and cameramen. Says Rupin's grandfather Mulk Raj Katyal, "Leave her alone. She is under sedation. Please don't ask her questions."
Sorrow seems to have given way to stoic hostility. There are few visitors otherwise. The streets lay deserted -- almost like making it's own statement. Rachna's brother strolls into the porch. "She is sleeping," he clarifies. She has been sleeping ever since she returned home last night after the ordeal on board the hijacked IC 814. Doctors have been sedating her as she has still not accepted reality -- the reality that Rupin was no more, that he had been murdered by the hijackers.
Says her uncle, "We broke the news after she reached home last night. I think she already had her suspicions. She kept saying, 'where is he? Why isn't he here to see me.' " There was little that the family could tell her. Says Rupin's father C M Katyal, "We told her about Rupin after she reached home. We had a doctor here as we did not know how she would react. The doctor sedated her and ever since she has been sleeping."
He seems to have accepted reality, and now wants his daughter-in-law to get over the tragedy before it can do her further damage. Says Dr Anita Joshi, one of the passengers on board, "Even on board Rachna kept asking for her husband. But nobody told her what had happened. The hijackers told her that he was among the passengers who were released on December 25 in Dubai, and that had they (the hijackers) known that she was his wife they would let her go too." In fact, Dr Joshi had tried to treat Rupin after his throat was slit.
"Though at that moment, I did not know who he was, I knew there was little chance of him surviving," she added. Rachna's family has not spoken to her about the incident or about her experience on board. Says Mulk Raj Katyal, "The doctor has advised us to let her relax and help her face reality. I don't think doing a post-mortem of the entire episode is going to help her now. Let her sleep, and wake up when she is up to it."
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