CHARLOTTE -- Sometime around 10 p.m. Monday, Selina Akther Shiuli called her husband and asked him to pick up cereal and bananas on his way home from work.
Three hours later, his cell phone rang again.
"She said, 'I love you. You may not see us again,'" Mohammad Nasiruddin recalled Tuesday. "'Pray for us and forgive us. You are a good man.'"
Then, the mother of his two children hung up -- and didn't answer when he called back.
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Shortly afterward, Shiuli stabbed their 6-year-old and 15-month-old daughters and then herself, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
The older girl, Noshin Tabassum Nova, died from multiple stab wounds. The Merry Oaks Elementary first-grader had wanted to be a doctor someday.
The toddler, Nafisha Tabassum Sara, was in critical condition Tuesday evening at Carolinas Medical Center.
Shiuli, 28, was in stable condition, also at CMC. Police have warrants charging her with murder and attempted murder. An officer was posted outside her hospital room.
Nasiruddin told the Observer that his wife has had bad dreams recently and that she believed there was a ghost in their home that wanted to hurt her.
He said he had tried to take her to the doctor but she didn't want to go.
Police say they forced their way into the family's east Charlotte apartment after Shiuli called 911 at 1-05 a.m. Tuesday.
They would not say what she told the operator. But officers got to The Timbers apartments off Eastway Drive within three minutes and found all three with multiple stab wounds.
"I don't know what she was thinking," Nasiruddin told the Observer. "She loves her kids very much. She loves them more than anything. How can she press the knife to them? What was in her mind? She has to think they are getting more pain. How can she do that?"
Nasiruddin said his wife, a stay-at-home mom, was worried the ghost would kill her. He said he told her that what she saw wasn't real and that nobody would hurt her, but still she worried about who would take care of their children if she died.
He said she had never been treated for mental illness. He had made her three doctor's appointments, he said, but she never went.
Sometimes he would talk to her, but she would stare and not hear him, he said. This past weekend, he recalled, she was laughing for no reason.
He said he'd been trying to get her out of the home more often with trips to the mall and thought that was helping. They had normal conversations on Monday night, he said, and she seemed to be OK.
Police did not let him see her Tuesday. He did see their 6-year-old, whom he calls Nova, before her body was taken to the medical examiner's office. And he got to spend time with the youngest, whom he calls Sara.
Nasiruddin and Shiuli are from Bangladesh. He moved to New York in 1996, then married her in their home country in 1998. He said she stayed in Bangladesh and earned a bachelor's degree and he visited annually.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Nasiruddin moved to Charlotte. He said his wife and Nova came in 2004. Sara was born at CMC.
He worked at various hotels in Charlotte but lost his job earlier this year. When he couldn't find a new one, he said, he started driving a cab.
Monday morning, he took Nova to school in his cab. He said she was an excellent student, who especially excelled in writing.
"She liked to play with other kids. She was really funny. She loved me very much," he said. "If I say something wrong in English, she'd correct me."
Shajjad Husain, Nasiruddin's nephew, said Nova was "absolutely beautiful and very, very smart." He said she would memorize a song after hearing it only two or three times.
"I told my uncle, you need to take care of her. She will be somebody when she grows up."
Nasiruddin intends to bury his daughter today. It is Muslim tradition, he said, to bury the dead as soon as possible.
"I can't believe my Nova is gone. Everywhere I look, it seems like she must be here somewhere."
Nasiruddin said Sara made it through a five-hour surgery but doctors told him Tuesday afternoon that it will likely be 48 hours before they know whether she will survive.
Nasiruddin said he picked up Nova from school and his wife from Eastland Mall before going to work Monday afternoon. He said he told his wife he'd be home before midnight.
But at 11:30 p.m., he picked up a customer at the airport who wanted to go to Hickory, 70 miles away.
"I called her and said I was going to be late because I have a long-trip customer," he recalled.
Nasiruddin said he'd dropped off the customer and was headed home about 1 a.m. when his wife called to say he might not see his family again.
"I said, `What are you talking about? Are you OK? Did you sleep?"'
She hung up.
"I was shaking," he said. "I said, `Something is wrong."'
He said he called her back, but she hung up on him. When he called again, he got voice mail.
"I drove very fast," he said. "When I was driving, I was praying for my family.
"I try to keep calling, and she doesn't answer. I was thinking I should call police."
Nasiruddin said he got to the intersection of Central Avenue and Eastway Drive -- just a few blocks from home -- and then police called him.
You need to get home, the officer told him. As soon as possible.