NITIN GARG staggered into the Hungry Jack's restaurant, his upper body sliced open by a massive knife wound, knowing he was going to die.
As he pleaded with his co-workers at the restaurant to help him, his lips turned blue. He passed out and died later in hospital.
The 21-year-old Indian student had spent more than $40,000 studying accountancy in Australia and had plenty to look forward to before he was stabbed as he walked through a park in West Footscray, Melbourne, on his way to work on Saturday night.His housemates, Sandeep Sandeep and Parminder Singh, raced to Royal Melbourne Hospital to be with him, but they were too late.
Mr Sandeep said the eight Indians living together in a house in the suburb of Newport were like family, and Mr Garg was like a brother to him.
He made a heartbreaking call to Mr Garg's brother in India to tell him of the stabbing. ''He just would not believe me when I told [him] Nitin was no more and asked to speak to the doctor.''
Dead at 21 ... Nitin Garg had recently completed an accounting degree.
Mr Sandeep and Mr Singh said they were allowed to briefly see their friend's body. ''It was so difficult to look at him in that condition after seeing [him] a few hours earlier, '' Mr Sandeep said. .
Police are reluctant to draw a racial link to the murder, even though Mr Garg was not robbed of his wallet or phone and some of his belongings were left scattered in the park where he was stabbed as he took a short cut to the restaurant from a train station.
Mr Singh wondered at the level of knife violence in Melbourne, having also seen the agony of another man who was stabbed on the same night his friend died.
''There was a guy in the hospital at the same time who had been stabbed six times and he was not an Indian,'' Mr Singh said. ''It's not just about an Indian losing his life, this is happening to everyone. Where is it safe any more?''
The man had been celebrating his 44th birthday when he was attacked as he returned to his car with his wife on Saturday night.
The number of Melbourne knife casualties grows daily. A 23-year-old man was charged yesterday with the attempted stabbing murder of another man on Sunday.
The two Indian friends were consoling each other in their sparsely furnished home as police talked of a crackdown on knife crime. Balloons and ribbons still hung from the fan, fading memories of their friend's 21st birthday party last year.
The image of their wounded friend stumbling into his workplace on Saturday night is unlikely to dim.
''He fell into the arms of one of his colleagues and said, 'Please help me, I'm dying', then he went blue and passed out,'' Mr Singh said.
''We were like family; we took care of each other,'' Mr Sandeep said. He had offered to drive Mr Garg to work but he had decided to take the train, then walk.
It was a decision that cost him his life and is played over and over in Mr Sandeep's mind.
''The doctor said it was a long wound from abdomen to the heart,'' Mr Singh said.
''Whoever did this knows how to kill,'' Mr Sandeep said.
They said they expected the killer to be caught, but their pain would linger while ''he was treated like a guest in prison''.
Police will test new search powers near Footscray railway station on Thursday in a bid to curb knife crime.
That is unlikely to ease growing concerns among parents in India about sending their sons and daughters to Australia to study.
Mr Singh and Mr Sandeep said two of the students staying with them had spoken to their families and they wanted them to return to India. More are likely to follow.