What Happened to the Talwars Could Happen to You

Trial by Error | The Aarushi Files

What Happened to the Talwars Could Happen to You

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

“The whole truth is a luxury. In case you are looking for it, a courtroom isn’t the place to either start or end the search. All that a court does is reduce the number of ways a story can be told to two: plausible or implausible. The choice is made easier by these limits. The truth is not.”—excerpt from Aarushi, (Penguin 2015)

In the May 2008 murders of Aarushi Talwar and the Talwar household help Hemraj Banjade, we got a verdict; but did we get the truth?

It has been more than three years since a lower court in Ghaziabad found Aarushi’s parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar guilty of the murders. Until the Allahabad High Court acquitted them today, they were serving life sentences in Dasna jail.

Trial By Error: The Aarushi Files is an audio series that tells you the compelling story of the case: it’s a story that needs to be told. More importantly, it’s a story that needs to be heard.

The story of the Talwars has an added ingredient which makes it even more personal: the chilling, inescapable realisation that what happened to them could happen to you.

So what is the story about? And why is it so important?

Of its many layers, the ones on the surface are these: it is a murder story from which the sickening stench of illicit sex rises to either titillate or disgust. Which will it be?

It’s a story about parenting, and growing up, in a modern Indian setting. It could be a story of loss. But also a story about deep-rooted “values” (the notion of family honour at any cost, for instance) that seldom reveal themselves in urban India. So which is it?

It’s a story about how the criminal justice system works in India. So how does it work?

When the layers are peeled, what hits you most about this murder case is that it is, at its core, a story about the India we live in. It’s much bigger: the murders fill only a fraction of a very large canvas.

The introduction to my book, Aarushi, ends this way:

“When the astronaut Rakesh Sharma went to space in the early 1980s, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, asked him what India looked like from up there. Rakesh Sharma’s response was memorable: Saare jahaan se achha. This book is what India looks like from the ground.”

This audio series isn’t a reading of the book. It brings in real voices from the characters who were part of the drama. And Nishita Jha’s sensitive narration achieves what only the medium of audio can: it makes it your story.

The voices are ours. The pictures, yours.

Listen to the eight-part audio series Trial By Error: The Aarushi Files here.