'Did You Do It?': Indrani Mukerjea's Daughter Writes On Visiting Her In Jail

Indrani Mukerjea's daughter writes about visiting her mother in jail for the first time after her arrest.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Vidhie Mukerjea, Indrani Mukerjea's daughter, has written her memoir titled Devil's Daughter and put down her 'journey to hell' and back, which began in 2015 after her mother was accused and arrested for the murder of Sheena Bora. Here's an excerpt from the book where Vidhie describes what happened when she first met her mother in Mumbai's Byculla jail along with her stepfather Peter Mukerjea several months after she was arrested:

I woke up at around eight o’clock and went into Papa’s room. He was just about ready. I asked him what to expect: where would we meet her? Would we get to touch each other?

‘Darling, I know as much as you do. I have not the slightest clue how all this is going to go down. I’m feeling really strange too.’

I was nervous; I could feel my stomach churning in the car on the way there. No one spoke a word. We finally reached Byculla Central Prison, the name of which was written on a massive board. No cars were allowed, so we got out and walked inside through what was like an open-air passageway. On the left there were benches with cops sitting on them, staring at us as we walked past. We soon spotted Gunjan, my mum’s lawyer. She gave us a slight smile and told us to come inside. We headed to a waiting area of sorts with one desk and a computer where our details were registered. We both gave in our passports. The room was very clean, which I wasn’t really expecting. There were a couple of other people, like us waiting to see their loved ones too. They kept staring at us the entire time, everyone did … probably as they all knew who we were and who we had come to visit.

We were asked to wait for about ten minutes while they went and called her. We would then have to go into the section where we’d be able to talk. I had a peep: there were about ten different booths with grills and glass between two phones, as I’d seen in movies. I felt like someone was doing cartwheels inside my stomach—I didn’t feel prepared for this.

A few minutes later, the woman sitting behind the desk told us we could go in. We walked in and saw her behind the caged barrier. She had lost so much weight, her hair had greyed from the top, and she just looked incredibly tired, almost sick. We walked over to her and I burst into tears and began crying uncontrollably; the tears seemed incapable of stopping. Mum instantly started weeping too. She put her fingers up to the grill, as did I, and we wept together for a few minutes, uninterrupted.

I looked over at Papa and he just hugged me. I could see the tears in his eyes, him trying ever so hard to hold them back, though a few rolled down the side of his face anyway, which he quickly and abruptly wiped off. I knew he wanted to be strong for us.

We only had twenty minutes for our meeting … we had so much to say, so much to ask. How would one fit it all in?

As she was crying, she kept apologising. ‘I am so sorry for all this, I have let you both down,’ she said.

We were scared to ask her the persisting question in our mind. ‘Did you do it?’

We refrained from that, but I did ask her what was going on. She just kept apologising. She looked so worn out, so skinny and so exhausted, as though she hadn’t been able to sleep for days.

Indrani Mukerjea's daughter writes about visiting her mother in jail for the first time after her arrest.

The cover of Devil's Daughter.

(Photo Courtesy: Westland)

Then she asked me how I was doing, how was university, was I attending classes? I nodded at everything without even hearing the full question. I asked her how she was. She said she was doing okay, that she was holding up.

She said, ‘Baby, why aren’t you writing to me?’

I froze and I said, ‘I don’t know, Mum, I just really don’t know, I am so confused.’

She told me I had to write to her as it would give her strength.

Shortly after, one of the security guards came and tapped Papa on the shoulder, saying we only had ten more minutes left. Mum started crying even more, as did I. Before we knew it, we had to leave.

We both wiped away our tears and told each other to be strong. She told me not to worry.

It was the hardest thing, to see her like that. I was in an absolute state while leaving; so was Papa. He was silent, but I could tell he was totally broken. On one hand, I felt confused, betrayed and angry, but on the other hand, seeing her like that, behind the grilled mesh, inside a prison, tore me up from inside. My mother had loved me, cared for me, fought for me, and even though we hadn’t had a great relationship for a few years, the last many months had made up for it. We had gotten so incredibly close … all three of us.

Leaving the prison, not knowing when I would be able to see her next, was devastating. I got into the car and cried a little more on Papa’s shoulder.

(Extracted with permission from Devil’s Daughter by Vidhie Mukerjea, published by Westland Non-Fiction, August 2021.)

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