Vijay Bhaskhar’s usual Friday morning was suddenly shattered when he received a call from his mother in Vijayawada.
For the Hyderabad resident, the first few moments of the call were sheer confusion as his mother could not stop crying at the other end. As his alarm grew, his mother found her voice only to reveal terrible news that he could not bear. His brother-in-law had called his parents after a year, only to deliver the news that his sister, Nara Sasikala, was no more.
Sasikala and her seven-year-old son, Anish Sai, were allegedly found murdered in their southern New Jersey house, when Sasikala’s husband N Hanumantha Rao reached home after work on Thursday night.
“I work in Hyderabad in a private bank. When my mother called and told me about the incident, I did not know how to react. All I could do was cry. That afternoon I came back to Vijayawada,” says Vijay.
“I lost my sister and best friend at the same time. I still can’t believe that she will not call ever again, that I will never hear her voice again, that I don’t have to check my email inbox anymore to see her letters,” he says.
According to Vijay, Sasikala’s family suspects that Hanumantha Rao was involved in the murder of Sasikala and Anish.
Nine years ago, Sasikala moved to New Jersey with her husband, when the couple worked for an IT company. She had always wanted to live and work abroad, says Sasikala’s uncle, 73-year-old Prabhakar Reddy.
“She was always very ambitious and independent. When she moved there, she was happy to get the opportunity. She used to work from home, while her husband used to go to the office,” says Prabhakar.
But, alleges Vijay, things began to sour for the couple some years ago. He found out that his sister was worried about her marriage when he received an email from Sasikala in 2014, where she told him that Hanumantha was having an extra-marital affair.
“In the mail she wrote that she had been depressed and crying daily, as she found out about her husband’s affair with a woman who works with him in his office. She was hurt that, there was no guilt or regret on his face, that he made a mistake,” says Vijay.
In the emotional email, which Sasikala’s family shared with the media in support of their allegations against Hanumantha, Sasikala wrote that she was heartbroken over the alleged affair, but was continuing to survive for the sake of her son.
Vijay alleges that Sasikala had been trying hard to set right things between her and Hanumantha for the past two years, but the couple found it difficult to even talk to each other.
“They used to fight frequently. And Hanumantha stopped keeping in touch with any of us. We used to ask her to come back to India, but she wanted to work, and wanted her son to grow up there. Now it is too late to call her home,” says Prabhakar, as he bursts into tears.
“Sasi called her mother in the evening after she picked up her son from school at five in the evening. Anish was missing his grandparents. He said he wanted to come and meet them all – his grandfather, grandmother, uncle and me, his mamaia. Now I will never see that little boy laughing and playing again,” says Prabhakar.