A pall of gloom descended on plot no 39 of a residential colony in Hyderabad's Bachupally as the body of slain Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in the US last week, reached his house.
On Monday evening, a large tent had been set up and chairs laid out outside the house for friends, relatives and well-wishers to visit the family.
They spoke about Srinivas fondly, and how he had individually touched their lives, and made it better.
"I was with Srinivas in school. I've known him for 20 years. It's terrible that our friendship has to end like this," says one of Srinivas' friends. "He was a very kind and considerate person. You could always call him for advice, and we regularly kept in touch. He hardly changed over the years, if you ask me," he added.
Another neighbour, who had met Srinivas a few times, remarked, "I enjoyed my meetings with him. He was very soft spoken and gentle."
Even strangers had shown up at the house. "I share my name with him, and I also stay in Bachupally, so I thought that the least I can do, is come and pay my last respects to him," says Srinivas, a local resident.
Srinivas' body was brought by a cargo flight which arrived at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) around 10pm. Kuchibhotla's father K Madhusudhana Sastry and other family members received the body. After completing all formalities, the body was carried in an ambulance to his house.
Kuchibhotla's wife Sunayana Dumala, her brother, sister-in-law and another family member reached the city by a passenger flight from the US.
(Srinivas' wife and relatives reach his residence)
Police had made elaborate security arrangements at the airport and media persons were barred from the cargo terminal.
Telangana Transport Minister Mahender Reddy and a few leaders of ruling TRS were also present at the airport to receive the body. They later accompanied Srinivas' body to his house, where they paid their respects and addressed the media.
The family had been strong-willed so far, speaking to the media all through past week, but things changed at the sight of their son's body.
Srinivas' mother, Parvata Vardhini, was inconsolable. Breaking down even before she stepped out to see the body, she continued sobbing as people helped her back into the house. "Till now, we were only talking about him. Now that we have seen him, itâ€™s much tougher to hold ourselves together. To see our Srinivas lying like this, is just heartbreaking," a relative says.
"I wish that no one else has to face this plight. My daughters themselves are studying the US, but now I fear for their safety more than ever," he adds.
Srinivas was killed and Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W Purinton, a white man who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas state, last Wednesday.
Purinton reportedly got into an argument with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled "get out of my country", "terrorist" before shooting them.
Kuchibhotla of Hyderabad and his colleague Madasani from Warangal district in Telangana were working as aviation programme managers at Garmin, an MNC.
Srinivas' wife, Sunayana Dumala, who bravely addressed the American media a few days ago, rushed into her home on Monday night, refusing to talk to the media in Hyderabad.
"He did not deserve a death like this. In two weeks, he would've celebrated his 33rd birthday...I need an answer from the government. What are they going to do to stop hate crimes? Not just for my husband, who lost his battle, but for everyone -- for all those people, of any race, who have lost their loved ones." she had earlier said.
Srinivas had gone to the US in 2005 to do his Masters, and had been living in Kansas for two-and-a-half years.
On Saturday, Telangana Minister for NRI Affairs KT Rama Rao visited the house and consoled his parents and other family members.
The Minister later told reporters that Srinivas' parents said that while no government can bring back their son, all efforts should be made to prevent such incidents in future so that parents of others are saved of this agony.
Srinivasâ€™ last rites will be performed in Hyderabad on Tuesday.