On Jan. 30, Vidya was attacked by Vijaya Bhaskar after her family turned down his marriage proposal

On Sunday morning, the otherwise bustling Tiruvalluvar Main Road in Adambakkam lined with shops, had not yet woken up to the news of the death of 21-year-old acid attack victim Vidya.

It was inside an internet browsing centre on this road, on the afternoon of January 30, that Vidya was attacked.

Many of the shops, including the browsing centre where Vidya was attacked, had their shutters down. One of the few shops that were open was C. Babu’s Ganesh News Mart, located a few feet from the browsing centre. He heard the news on television, he said grimly, and said that like on any other day most shops, including theirs, broke for lunch since they had a power cut between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

R. Gowtham, owner of Gowtham Tailors, located next to the browsing centre, said that he was napping, when he heard the screams from the neighbouring browsing centre. “We did not let the boy escape, and held him till the police came. In the meantime, ladies from nearby houses got some clothes to cover the girl. She was in so much distress,” he said.

A. Banumati, whose house is located next to the row of shops, had incidentally taken a day off from work on that day. When she stepped out on hearing the commotion, she said, it took her some time to fully understand what had happened and what help was needed. “Most of those who had gathered were men, and they wanted a woman to look after her. So, I rushed with a sari to cover her,” she said.

Back in the modest two-room home in Parameshwari Nagar on Sunday, Vidya’s 14-year-old cousin V. Bhavani recalled her last conversation with Vidya. The first thought that came to Bhavani’s mind when she was asked about her cousin was, “She was very beautiful. I visited her in the hospital on Friday and she cried saying ‘look at what has happened to me’. She wanted to live,” an emotional Bhavani said. “Whenever I had a doubt in Maths, I would come to her. We are a close-knit family and would get together for all festivals and occasions,” she said.

Chandrika, Vidya’s aunt, said that since Vidya’s father’s death, the family has been facing many struggles, but this was unexpected. “They have been going to the hospital daily. This should not happen to anyone,” she said, standing outside the narrow entrance of the two-storey house which crams in six tenants.

When Vidya’s body was brought home, it was placed under a shamiana outside the house. Vidya, her mother and brother lead a tough life, said relatives.

Those like U. Alice, Vidya’s neighbour, who had known Vidya since the age of 10, remember her as a silent introvert. “They were earlier tenants in my house,” she said. S. Murugan, owner of Shree browsing centre, remembers her as a diligent person. “She came to work regularly and on time,” he recalled.

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