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'We hope it is not true'

By Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi
February 01, 2003 22:23 IST
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At home, Kalpana Chawla's brother Sanjay is too numb to cry.

He has taken shelter in disbelief, family friends said, in the hope that what he has heard is not true, that his kid sister has somehow survived the explosion.

In the ground floor flat at the Asiad Village in south Delhi, the phones are continuously ringing, the television tuned to CNN. And Sanjay Chawla sits, as if cast in stone, unresponsive to questions.

He is said to have been the man behind Kalpana the astronaut, the person on whom she relied a lot, the one who inspired her to become a pilot.

Chawla's parents are not here. They are in the United States. NASA had invited them over to watch their daughter making her second journey into space.

"We are in a moment of grief," a family friend said. "We hope what we heard is not true."

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Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi