A FADING silk scarf wrapped around the forehead, dirty shirt sleeves pulled down and his stained teeth protruding in an awkward smile. Devender is a recognisable face in this lower class residential area in Delhi's stinking eastern fringe. In the bylanes buzzing with flies, buffaloes and children, they call him "Gabbar" after the famous villain of Sholay. They follow him shouting "Gabbar, Gabbar" as Devender leads us like a seasoned guide through the winding lanes of Trilokpuri. This area typifies the urban fringe of India: overflowing community toilets, scraps from building sites where men search fortunes and daily bread, children and cattle fighting for space and women stay mostly behind the closed doors. Devinder's father is among the handful punished for the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and is doing time in Tihar jail Trilokpuri is also one of the most shameful and indelible blot of 1984 riots. And Devender is a mentally unstable child living the madness of his father during the riots. He is not alone in this colony where Sikhs were killed in hundreds overnight. After the riots, the Sikh families who lived in Block 32 and other riot-struck areas of Trilokpuri sold off their houses dirt cheap and took refuge in other parts of the city. But the killers and their families stayed back, unaffected by the carnage they had wrought. And it was much later, after several years of court battles that some of them were brought to book. Devender hasn't seen his father for months. "I don't have any money to travel to the jail," he says, as he jogs his memory to recall when he last saw his father. Jagdish, alias Jagga is among the handful punished for the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, and is doing time in Tihar jail, in west Delhi. After his father went to jail, Devender's life took a downward town. His mother had died of brain haemorrhage when he was very young. Devender, a mentally challenged child, was brought up by a relative. He went to the nearby government school, dropped out after Class VII and has since been of little use but as a butt of joke for children of his colony. "I know he also wants to meet me," Devender says of his father, but isn't sure when that would happen. But for Devender one thing is for sure. He has to bear the cross of his father's sins on the by-lanes of this colony. Everyone recognises him, by his father's deeds. OCTOBER and November of 1984 mean different things to different people. For the Sikhs it represents the dance of death. For a few like Devender, it is an emblem of the madness that stuck their fathers. Yards away from Devender's house, Rakesh speaks of his father Kishori Lal's innocence. He repeatedly points out that his father owned a meat shop and some 20 cycle rickshaws and they were on a fast track to affluence. "He is innocent. There was no reason for him to kill someone," Rakesh insists. But for the world Kishori is the butcher of Trilokpuri and the main accused in one of the most horrendous cases: State vs. Kishori (Karkardooma, Delhi S.C. No.52/95 FIR No.426/84). Kishori Lal was sentenced to death seven times by lower courts, but Supreme Court has converted them into life imprisonments. The hang-till-death order proved to be a fatal shock to Kishori's wife. Rakesh and his little sister were orphaned. As the order was being read, their mother collapsed of heart attack in the court premises and died a few days later. Kishori attended his wife's funeral in chains, in custody parole for just two hours. While Kishori returned to the jail, Rakesh and his little sister dropped out of school and the 20-year-old resorted to odd jobs. THE story is not very different for Kiran and her three daughters, a couple of bylanes away, next to the park that became a graveyard for many Sikhs. Kiran, 50, recalls the days of riots when the houses across the park were set ablaze, and dozens lay dead: some in burning tyres, others chopped to pieces, many without even proper clothes on. "How could we kill our neighbours?" Kiran laments. But her husband Manohar Lal alias Munna, is yet another convicted for the riots and serving his sentence in Tihar jail. Survivors come to see the streets where their dear ones were burnt to death, their houses torched, where they hid for days in terror For the past seven years Kiran and her three daughters have followed one routine. Early morning, they lock their house and walk to bungalows of rich families a few kilometres away to clean, mop and do other chores. "We don't tell them that our father is in jail," says Kiran's 20-year-old daughter, Poonam. "If they come to know we will lose the job," she says. After they finish the morning's work, the four women to set out for courts or lawyer's chambers almost everyday. Kiran has sold off two of the three houses in illegal colonies, to pay the lawyers. "I have spent a decade in courts and visiting jail. I am tired," Kiran says, struggling for breath. Her blood pressure problems are only complicated by the lack of her husband's income and the worries about marrying off her daughters. Kiran is happy that her struggles paid off partially when the Supreme Court commuted Manohar's death sentence to life imprisonment. But life "has been really bad for me and my daughters," Kiran says. BLOCK number 32 of Trilokpuri till the riots was a mix of lower class Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. But the riots changed the colony overnight. Block number 32 is now a colony of just Hindus and Muslims. Sikhs sold off their houses here to move to the safety of Tilak Vihar and other Sikh-dominated colonies. Widows, children and other survivors come once in a while to see streets where their dear ones were burnt to death, their houses that were torched, where they hid for days in terror. A gurdwara stands at the beginning of Block No 32 by the dirty drain along the congested road running through the colony. There are no daily visitors to this shrine, which was rebuilt after it was burnt down during the riots. The only Sikh presence is a turbaned Sikh ice cream vendor just outside the desolate gurdwara. Whenever someone buys Devinder an ice-cream, he relishes it in the company of the Sikh vendor. As we turn to leave, Devender wipes his watery nose on his shirt sleeves and asks with a flash of clarity, "Will your writing be of any help to us? I would love to be like you one day." And then he pauses to add, "If my father were here I think I would have been different."