"it doesn't seem real that I won't see her again."
A retired postmistress was found battered to death at her home in Hornchurch, East London.
Her husband has been charged with her murder.
Tarsame Singh, aged 79, handed himself into a police station near the couple’s home on the evening of May 2, 2023.
Officers and paramedics rushed to the home just after 9:30 pm and found 77-year-old Maya Devi with severe head injuries.
She was pronounced dead a short while later.
The couple ran the post office in nearby Rainham for many years before recently retiring.
Ms Devi regularly visited the Havering Asian Social and Welfare Association (HASWA) community centre close to her home, where she practised yoga and met friends for lunch.
Nirmala Leal, an outreach worker at HASWA and a close friend, saw her a few hours before her death.
Ms Leal said: “I spoke to Maya yesterday afternoon, about 1:30 pm, and she seemed to be in a good mood.
“In fact, she was excited as she was going on holiday next week.
“She had come to the community centre for yoga, which she did every week, and told me that she wouldn’t be in from Wednesday as she was going to Lanzarote for six days with a female friend.
“Maya was such a lovely lady, really warm-hearted. She loved singing as much as yoga and had a smile for everyone.
“I can’t believe this has happened and that she has gone.
“I saw her just a few hours before her death, it doesn’t seem real that I won’t see her again.”
Originally from India, Ms Devi had been living in the UK for more than 50 years.
Manjit Singh, HASWA’s project development officer, said:
“Maya had been coming here for the last four years and was a really popular member.
“She would turn up at least four days a week.
“To begin with she was quiet and fairly withdrawn but gradually she came out of her shell and was full of so much fun and happiness.
“She came to our lunches and picnics and loved the seaside outings to places like Eastbourne and Hastings.
“She had the best smile and a little glint in her eye. I loved her company. There was never any mention of any unhappiness or unpleasantness at home, so I’m shocked that this has happened to her.
“This has really left us all numb because Maya was the gentlest, kindest and most wonderful lady.”
The couple’s home has been cordoned off by police.
Neighbour and friend, Kartar Singh Panesar, said:
“I just don’t know what happened or why.
“They were a lovely couple, I never once saw or heard them argue. I certainly didn’t hear anything last night.”
“The first I knew was when the police turned up.
“Tarsame used to run the post office in Rainham for many years but recently retired but sometimes if there were staffing difficulties he’d still help out there as he knew how everything worked.
“He and his wife have been living in Britain for more than 50 years.
“They are both from India and before moving to Hornchurch, they lived in East Ham. They have a son and two daughters, who are all devastated. We all are.”