Unnoticed, he bid her goodbye

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He stood near the funeral pyre and did not interact with any family member of the 23-year-old gangrape victim. Quiet and unnoticed, the 28-year-old engineer, the only witness to the December 16 horror on board the chartered bus, stayed for all the rituals and left without meeting her family members.

His father later told Newsline: "Jeewan bhar takleef main rahega ab mera beta. Kaise bhool sakta hai woh raat. (My son will be in pain throughout his life. He can never forget what happened that night)." The father said his son has not talked to any relative or friend since the night of the incident. He remains quiet and disturbed.

"He has had sleepless nights. Suddenly gets high fever and is very disturbed. I, as a father, try to console him. I tell him that everything will be fine. But inside I know, how can he come back to his normal self after being witness to such brutality," the father said. "We sent our children to the best schools and colleges so that their future is bright. How can life be so cruel? I wonder what will be his future now?"

He went to meet the woman when she was admitted at Safdarjung hospital. Later, he told his father that the she seemed positive about the future. He believed that they would fight through, but her death has "shattered him".

A relative said the two visits to the hospital and the conversation with the woman had given him some hope about their future. But everything came crashing down on Saturday morning when the news of her death came.

The relative said he was happy that she was taken abroad for treatment.

The engineer, as the sole witness, has been through several rounds of questioning by the police and does not want to revisit the incident anymore.

"It hurts him every time he recalls that horrific night. But he is aware of his responsibilities. He has given his statement over and over again, whether it is to the police or before the court. He also went for the the test identification parade at Tihar Jail and was once again exposed to the demons whom he tried to fight that night, but could not succeed," the relative said.

He told his parents that the men tried to throw him out of the bus, but he wanted to save the woman. He keeps repeating that he tried "very hard".

He will stay in Delhi for the case. "He is aware of his responsibilities and will not leave this halfway. The bubbly chirpy boy now just keeps to himself, but when it comes to legal formalities, he extends full support and always cooperates. He wants the accused to be given the strictest of punishment," the father said.

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