New York Times Portraits of Grief



Valsa Raju

By all accounts, Valsa Raju was a model employee who worked hard at her job as a supervisor in the foreign exchange division of Carr Futures. And many evenings, when she returned home from work she would make dinner for her husband, Raju Thankachan, and their two children, Sonia Raju, 9, and Sanjay Raju, 5.
Leaving the house each morning at 6:30 and arriving home at 6 p.m. left Ms. Raju little time for leisure. So it was on weekends that she was able to relax. In the winter she might go shopping for decorations for her house in Yonkers. In the summer, she tended to her small backyard garden, where she raised tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplant and other vegetables to incorporate into many of those dinners she cooked. ''She grew all the vegetables we needed for the whole year,'' Mr. Thankachan said.
Ms. Raju, 39, immigrated to New York in 1985 from Ranni, her hometown in the state of Kerala in India, joining her sister Annamma Thomas. Six years later, she wed Mr. Thankachan, in a marriage that had been arranged by the families of bride and groom. ''The most important thing for her was to raise her kids in the right way and get a better life for the kids,'' Mr. Thankachan said over the phone as Sonia and Sanjay made noise in the background, vying for their father's attention.

   9/11: The Reckoning