Widow Of The Kansas Shooting Victim Penned An Emotional Essay About Her Late Husband

"Is this the same country we dreamed of and is it still secure to raise our families and children here?"

According to local authorities, a U.S. Navy veteran opened fire on two Indian men at a bar last week in Olathe, Kansas, after reportedly hurling racial slurs at them earlier that night and exclaiming, "Get out of my country." One victim, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, died from his injuries, and the other, Alok Madasani, survived. An American, Ian Grillot, tried to intervene but was also shot, though he is recovering steadily. 

The veteran allegedly believed that Kuchibhotla and Madasani were Iranian. In fact, they were employees at the tech company Garmin, and both had received their master's degrees in the United States. 

It took nearly a week for President Trump to condemn the shooting, which he finally did in his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. That was also the day of Kuchibhotla's funeral in Hyderabad, where his remains were cremated with his family and close friends in attendance. 

After the ceremony, Kuchibhotla's widow, Sunayana Dumala, broke her silence in a moving essay that she posted on Facebook. Dumala wrote of her heartbreak at Kuchibhotla's death, and his support for her dreams and passion for his work. They had lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before, but moved to Kansas so that Dumala could pursue her career. 

"Kansas was our instant choice, and we moved here with a lot of dreams. We built our dream home, which he painted, and installed the garage door. Doing any kind of work on his home gave him immense joy. This was the home that he had built to — for us and any kids we would have — was our first step to starting our family," Dumala wrote. "It's so unfortunate that this dream of ours is now shattered. All of this, because of one person, who did not think of the impact his deed would have on the victim's family."

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Dumala wrote of her friends' and family's support in the wake of the incident, and thanked prominent figures who spoke up about the shooting. She also mentioned Grillot, who has been hailed a hero for his actions:

I do not have words to express my gratitude towards Mr. Ian Grillot for what you have done. Thanks for having the courage and trying in whatever way possible to save my husband. When I am back in Olathe, I would like to meet you personally. You and your act of kindness will help me survive and still have the faith in love and spreading love and not hate. I hope you get well soon. 

Dumala's post has been shared thousands of times, and many commenters expressed their condolences and support. But besides sharing her heartbreak, Dumala's message struck a chord with many immigrants who have made America their home yet feel the increasing burden of being labeled an outsider. 

"On what basis we decide a person is good or bad, and of course, it's not based on the color of your skin. So what decides that?" Dumala asked." To answer the question that is in every immigrant's mind, DO WE BELONG HERE? Is this the same country we dreamed of and is it still secure to raise our families and children here?"

Her sentiment reflects the growing worry among minorities in a time of heightened hostility. Anti-Semitic incidents, Islamophobic attacks, and discrimination towards transgender students have in the headlines recently, the most visible evidence of an increasingly divided country.

Dumala urged resilience and resistance against hatred.

"Many times, these issues are talked about for a few weeks and people tend to forget about them afterward," she wrote, "but the fight must go on towards eradicating hatred from the minds of people." 

Read her full post here:

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