New Delhi: A whole year has gone by, but their wounds refuse to heal. The anguished parents of the Dec 16 gang-rape victim live for the day the rapists will hang.
"Time has passed for us. But like her injuries, our wounds are still fresh. We don`t think we will ever come out of these," the father of the 23-year-old rape victim said.
Tears roll down as he recalls, with some difficulty, the last days of his "bright, intelligent daughter" who had a "great future ahead" before it ended abruptly.
"Whenever she would come from Dehradun, she would hide behind the door and surprise me," he said of his daughter who had studied physiotherapy in Dehradun and was working as a trainee in a Delhi hospital.
"Her every action replays in my mind all the time. For me, she is still alive. Time has frozen for me. I feel she is hiding behind the door and will suddenly appear before me - any time now," said the 54-year-old, who works as a porter at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The victim`s father has only one desire.
"The hanging of the culprits will give me some satisfaction. It will help my family a bit," he said, seated in his modest two-bedroom house at Dwarka in west Delhi.
He moved to this house -- allotted by the government -- four months ago.
The 23-year-old was raped by five men and a juvenile in a moving private bus on Dec 16. The accused dumped her and her male friend on the road -- bloodied and without clothes after nearly an-hour long ordeal.
She battled for life for 13 days in Delhi before being flown to Singapore where she died.
The family is satisfied with the Sep 13 verdict of a Delhi court to hang four of the men. A fifth committed suicide in prison.
But they are unhappy about the Juvenile Justice Board`s decision to keep the minor in a reform home for three years. The Delhi High Court is hearing the appeal of the four accused against the death sentence.
"We have urged the Supreme Court to re-consider the juvenile court`s verdict," the father said, speaking in Hindi.
"How can a rapist be let off just because he is a juvenile? He was involved in a brutal act. He too should be hanged like his associates so that others get a message," he said, sounding hurt and angry.
The victim`s mother, who sat next to her husband, listened silently, wiping her tears all the time.
She said the final image of her daughter was permanently etched on her mind.
"I can`t forget that evening when she left home. She waved at me and her last words were `Bye Mom! I will return in a few hours!`."
"But she never returned home again," the 50-year-old mother said.
The parents are planning a memorial meeting on Dec 16 at the Constitution Club in the heart of Delhi.
"We want to thank everyone who supported us," the father said.
The brutal gang-rape sparked off outrage across the capital, forcing thousands of mainly young protesters to take to the streets and clash with security forces, demanding strong anti-rape laws.
A rattled government did act.
Recalling the last day of his daughter in Delhi`s Safdarjung Hospital, the father said he has one regret: he could not fulfil the last wish of his daughter.
"She wanted to drink water but doctors would not allow me to give her anything to drink or eat. She kept asking me, but I couldn`t do it," said the emotionally choked father.
"She was the first born. She brought happiness for us. She was the ray of my life. Now, my life is empty and meaningless."