Kishwar Jahan's eyes are moist but not weak. She has lost sleep but not strength. Rizwanur Rehman's mother will fight for justice till the last breath in her frail body.
"I have lost all meaning in life after my son's murder. My last wish is that those responsible for his death be punished. We are too weak to fgight a long legal battle but I will sell my house and even beg on the streets to ensure that my son gets justice," says the 55-year-old in a voice feeble but firm.
Seated in a corner of the tiny 7B Tiljala Lane house on Sunday, Kishwar Jahan is mourning the loss of her beloved Kakku (that's what she called him affectionately) with the eyes of the whole city on her. For, she has emerged as the first lady of Calcutta's conscience and courage - both of which are being put to the test by Rizwanur's tragedy.
As the mother-in-law of Priyanka Todi, she could have convinced the 23-year-old girl to return to her parents and told her 30-year-old son to encash the blank cheque that businessman Ashok Todi apparently offered the Rahmans on August 31.
As the grieving mother of Rizwanur, she could have succumbed to the alleged lure of lucre from political forces to hush up the matter.
But she did neither. "They (Rizwanur and Priyanka) loved each other and wanted to spend their life together. He left home on September 18 following constant harassment by the police and shifted to his uncle's house. He was very scared but promised to return home soon. This was the last I saw him. I kept praying for his well-being but they killed him. I could not even see his dead body," she said, her eyes welling up with tears that have refused to stop since the afternoon of September 21.
"Bahut mushkil se padhaya tha usey," she mumbled, drifting into memories of days that were hard but not devoid of hope. Rezaur Rehman, a Group-D employee with a private company, would barely being home enough to support the education of Rukbanur, Rizwanur and sister Minu.
"We used to have one meal a day but never stopped their studies," she recalled.
After their father retired, Rukbanur's job with a private firm and Rizwanur's tuitions kept the kitchen fires burning. The tide began to turn for the 7B Tiljala Lane address after Rizwanur graduated from St Xavier's College and began working as a graphics designer. After brother Rukbanur moved into a CIT Road rented flat and father Rezaur died last year, Rizwanur stayed on in Tiljala with his mother - and then brought Priyanka home.
"Rizwanur was doing well; he would give me Rs 100 every day before leaving for office. I used to cook biryani every Sunday. We were very happy..." whispered Kishwar Jahan.
Justice apart, the one thing she is waiting to see is the girl her son loved and lost.
Her message to Priyanka: "Wherever you are, please come home in this crisis. This is your home but I will understand if you stay on with your parents, as we are very poor. But for the sake of my son, who you loved so much, come to meet me once."