Maybe that dream would have come true eventually. But she chose a less expensive route. Four years ago, she enrolled in a physiotherapy course at a school in Dehradun, a tiny town in the Himalayan foothills. She got an overnight job working at a call center to help pay for rent and school fees.
On most days she slept only a few hours in her rented room.
‘‘We would have to call her every morning to make sure she got to class,’’ said the brother.
Relatives in their home village, not used to a family giving a girl so much freedom, pestered the father to get her married. Such things are wrong, they told him. She was not behaving as a woman, as a daughter, is expected to behave.
He ignored them.
‘‘College cannot be in your home. If you have to go out then you do,’’ he said.
With a job as a hospital physiotherapist, her salary would have started at 12,000-15,000 rupees ($220-270) a month, already more than her father’s pay.
By December, she was nearly finished. She was back in New Delhi, living at home and awaiting the results of her final exams.
On Dec. 16, everything changed. As they did every Sunday, the parents washed everyone’s clothes. The daughter cooked a family meal of kidney bean curry and lentil fritters soaked in spicy yogurt.
‘‘Everything was so normal,’’ her brother said.
Later, she went to a mall to see a movie with a male friend.
Ordinarily she rarely came home after 8 p.m., and always called if she was late. But that night the family heard nothing. When they called, her cellphone was switched off. By 8:30 p.m. her brother had called all her friends.
At 11:10 p.m. the police called. They were told their daughter had been in an accident.
The truth was much worse.
The woman and her friend had gotten on a bus after the movie, looking for a way back to her home. But the bus turned out to be driven by six men out for a joy ride, according to police documents. For nearly an hour, they were driven through the city. He was beaten. She was gang-raped, and penetrated with metal rods, causing such severe internal injuries that doctors found parts of her intestines floating inside her abdomen.
Eventually, the two were dumped, naked and bleeding, by a busy road on the cold December night.
‘‘Imagine how much she must have suffered,’’ her brother said. ‘‘We would fight, you know. Brothers and sisters fight too. And if I pushed her too hard she felt pain.’’
But still, she fought to live.
‘‘For almost 10 days her brain was alert,’’ said her mother, a slim woman wrapped in a sari, her eyes red from weeks of weeping.
Police and a magistrate took statements from her in a New Delhi hospital. She remembered the names of her attackers. She recognized the faces in the photographs police showed her.
She broke down only once.
‘‘She told me, ‘Mummy, they beat me a lot.’ That was the only time she showed her pain,’’ the mother said.
When infection began to ravage her body, she was flown with her family to a Singapore hospital. But on Christmas she slipped into a coma. Her family never got to speak to her again. The girl they called little daughter died on Dec. 29.
Now, they feel varying degrees of rage and helplessness.
‘‘Sometimes I want to kill them myself,’’ the brother says, ‘‘but I know that would be wrong.’’
If convicted, five of the attackers could face death sentences. A sixth, declared a juvenile, would likely serve three years in a reform home if convicted.
‘‘I want them to hang. They should not come out alive after what they did to my child,’’ said the father. ‘‘This is not just about my daughter. If there is no justice in this case it will hurt the progress of girls in the whole country. Every parent will be afraid for their daughters.’’
‘‘I always told my children, if you study hard you can escape this poverty. All my life I believed that,’’ said her mother. ‘‘Now that dream has ended. My faith has left me.’’
Three weeks after her daughter died, her final exam results were announced. She had passed.