Pankil Matalia

As Interviewed by Ashna Bhansali, March 14, 2015

Pankil Matalia: In His Own Words

Can you describe the events that led up to the tragedy involving your late sister, Trupti, in Kenya?

She went back from India on the 3rd of September, and she was just in the process of unpacking her bags, and she had bought bunch of stuff. She had bought lot of jewelries, which was fake, and she had bought a lot of other clothing, and decorative items. The maids who were working in her house, knew the financial state of my sister, and my brother-in-law, and Iím guessing this was probably building up in their mind for a long time, based on the events that occurred. She was taking a nap in the morning after packing the tiffin for her son and her husband, when the maid said that she needs to have additional hand of help for the house chores, so she said yeah -she usually did that- her maid always called her sister [for help], who was also working in the same apartment complex. So both of them were appearing to be working in the kitchen or bathroom and she was taking a nap and then all of a sudden and this is the story Iíve heard so I wasn't there personally, but what I've heard is that somehow they came from back and when she was in her sleep, they gagged her, suffocated her, they shoved lot of pieces of cloth in her throat, in her mouth and then they tied her up and then put her in the bedroom, and they tried to ransack the house. They basically broke lot of things and they were looking for all the valuables, jewelries and stuff like that. They kind of in a haphazard manner, left the apartment, and thatís when couple of neighbors they felt that something was really odd, because in my sisterís house they never heard this much kind of a commotion. So after a few hours they realized that Trupti has not come out, usually she goes down to buy the vegetables around nine-nine thirty, and since she didnít show up, couple of folks and the neighbors they got curious, and they went to her house, and they saw that the door was open, the music was loud, and the things were just kind of scattered around the house. Finally, they made it into the bedroom, and thatís when they saw there they could not see Trupti anywhere and but just they just felt that something was on the other side of the bed and they then they went on that side and found that Trupti was on the floor they had thrown lot of comforters and pillows and the mattress on top of her body and then her legs were showing up and thats when they called the 911 equivalent of police in Kenya and then they also called my brother-in-law. When my sister-in-law, my elder brotherís wife, she called and she said, ďTruptiís no more, the housemaids killed her.Ē So it was kind of shocking for me and I did not know what to do, I just kind of shouted out my sisterís name and this was about around three thirty in the morning. So it was kind of a moment of shock, as you would expect. From what I heard, there was three people involved, the maid, her elder sister who was also working in the same premises, and the security guard, because the security guards have clear instructions to not to let anybody go out between nine and six. If the housemaids are trying to leave the premises, he has to actually confirm with the homeowners. He didnít do it. It felt as if these three people were involved, after this happened they were all missing, so police was trying to look for them. From what I heard is, one of them got killed in the police encounter, the other two are at large right now.

My brother-in-law is very self-sufficient, and he wants his own privacy. We have offered help. Unfortunately since I was the only family in U.S, most of our family was in India, I was not able to help much. We did try to set up some financial funds for the kids, because she survived with two boys and a husband. They lost lot of money during this process, the maids stole bunch of stuff, jewelries, and cash, and phones-stuff like that, plus there was the big expense of getting her body to India, and he wasnít working for month and a half, and that kind of stuff so majority of help we have given is like mental support, mental strength.

I believe in the Karmas, so I think that whatever happened was part of the Karmas and whatever happened to anybody that was involved was also part of the Karmas. I didnít want to build my own Karmas by thinking bad or worse about anything that happened. The first thing that came to mind is that I forgive everybody in this process.

I think Kenya is not stable from a political or military perspective. They tried to make it democratic, and thats why there is militants and mafia involved. I think the main cause is poverty and greed that everyone has around the world, Kenya in particular. What I have seen is, and heard is that this is due to hate crime, they see that people from other countries and other nationalities are coming to their country, and they are making money, they are having a luxurious life, so that has created a hatred in the localities, they feel like people are stealing our money and our lifestyle. They are treating us like poor, treating us like their servants, and maids. We need to treat everybody with respect, whether they have money or not, whether their skin color, whether they are male or female, whether they are child, or elderly. I think until that changes, not just Kenya but things around the world are going to be like this. I think the core solution to all these problems is humanity, if you treat everybody with respect and dignity no matter whether you are in Kenya, or you are in Austin, Texas or you are in India or in China. I think what is happening is that the rich are getting richer and they are neglecting and they are treating the people who are deprived and they think of them as lesser of a human being, and they treat them badly, and inhumanly, and that is where the hatred is getting created. Until everyone treats each other with equality and dignity this problem will continue.

Thank you so much for talking about this, I know it must have been hard, and I really appreciate it.