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“We Are Doing Fine!” The Talwars in Dasna Jail

Avirook Sen, author of “Aarushi” writes on the lives of the Talwars in jail: Excerpts.

Updated
India
4 min read
The book cover of Aarushi by Avirook Sen. (Photo: Penguin Books India)

A half hour ride away from Ghaziabad, their earlier home, lies the new home of the Talwars – Dasna jail, the main prison in Western UP. Dr. Rajesh Talwar sometimes does dental work in the jail clinic.

In the same jail, Nupur Talwar works at the English office assisting the jail staff in correspondence – which is mostly in English – and for which they seek assistance from those more familiar with the language.

The Prison Life

When Avirook Sen, author of Aarushi and someone who’s been speaking to the Talwars since 2012, went to meet them in jail, he was greeted by Nupur Talwar with a smile. When he asked how they were doing, he was given a typically ironic answer:

“We  Are Doing Fine!” The Talwars in Dasna Jail

Their meeting came several months after the 25 November 2013 verdict by Justice Shyam Lal that pronounced the Talwars guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

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Representational picture (Photo: iStockphoto)
Representational picture (Photo: iStockphoto)

Rajesh Talwar, the book says, keeps a diary inside Dasna Jail, which he started writing from 25 November, the day the Talwars were convicted.

“Difficult to Live Without Aarushi”- Rajesh Talwar

A 3 December entry in the diary states

Still can’t understand how this happened to us. If only I would have gotten up...I could not even save my dear Aaru...Very difficult to live without her.
– Rajesh Talwar in his diary

Sometimes, though, Rajesh Talwar escapes the drudgery that is jail life with a little humor.

On 13 December he writes,

Did the composite (dental) fillings of the deputy jailer...Came back to the barracks at about 5:30 and sat with the docs, Yadav and Verma. Dr. Yadav was wearing a langot and we had a laugh about that. Laughed after quite a while. It’s so strange, I’m laughing even in jail.

– Rajesh Talwar in his diary

The Talwars Spent Their 25th Wedding Anniversary in Jail

The 25th wedding anniversary is an important milestone for any married couple. Here are Rajesh Talwar’s thoughts a day before his silver wedding anniversary:

Dec 18: This is the 25th year of our marriage and we will celebrate 25 years on the 19th of January. Could anyone imagine where we would be on our 25th anniversary? No Aaru, no house, no clinic, no money and sitting in jail for what we haven’t done.
– Rajesh Talwar in his diary

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Of Monumental Losses

Another excerpt from his diary shows Rajesh Talwar to be admiring of Nupur Talwar’s resilience.

28 Dec: Nupur was looking okay today. It’s really strange how she bears Aaru’s loss. She used to constantly be with her.

– Rajesh Talwar in his diary

A 1 January 2014 entry in Rajesh’s diary reflects the sadness of a father who has made it to yet another year, but without his daughter.

“We  Are Doing Fine!” The Talwars in Dasna Jail

In an earlier entry, Rajesh Talwar had expressed the hope that he and his wife would be out by April 2014. But as Avirook Sen writes, “the hopes of Dasna and the realities of Delhi were utterly different”.

January 4, 2014: Everybody is spending time in this barrack, but they will all go before me. But doesn’t matter, have the strength of mind to face any situation, and must give the same to Nupur also.

– Rajesh Talwar in his diary

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Nupur Talwar in Dasna Jail

Nupur Talwar lives in a rectangular ward with about 50 other women. Their mattresses lined tight against each other on either side, with a space down the middle filled with footwear, the women in her ward had a personal space that measured about 6 feet by 3 feet...Nupur told me her feet extended out on to the corridor of footwear when she slept. At night, if inmates turned in their sleep and disturbed a neighbour because a leg had crossed an invisible boundary, there were vicious fights.

–Avirook Sen, in Aarushi

Nupur, Not the Tough Woman Any More

Nupur Talwar’s toughness was somehow always seen to establish her guilt. “How could someone who has lost her daughter not cry”, Indians had collectively spoken from their living rooms.

But as someone who has been meeting Nupur Talwar for many months and followed her through the trial, Avirook Sen notices the strength breaking over time.

A year in jail changes things. The Nupur Talwar I saw in November did not have the bearing of the woman I had seen striding into court, the policeman making way for her. She had, instead, the sharp movements of a bird on constant alert for approaching predators. She saw her work at the ‘English Office’ as a privilege granted to her. She was wary of bending any rules, and deferential to the lowest authority, lest what little she had to look forward to be taken away.
– Avirook Sen, in Aarushi

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