Ansi Alibava moved to New Zealand to further her education and had just completed her master's degree – before being killed in the mosque shooting.
Alibava and her husband, Abdul Nazer, had borrowed money to migrate from India last year.
She was studying agribusiness management, he was working at a supermarket helping to pay the bills.
Alibava, 25, and Nazer, 34, were both inside the Al Noor Mosque when the first shots rang out on Friday.
"Right before the main prayer, I heard a single shot firing and I thought that some kids outside might have popped a balloon," Nazer told CNN, in his native language, Malayalam.
He had been praying near an emergency door and escaped after another worshipper smashed the glass.
"People started falling over me. I saw people with blood on their shirts."
Alibava had escaped the mosque with a group of women and children, but then returned to find her husband.
She was shot through a fence near the gunman's car, which was parked in a nearby driveway. As she lay pleading for help in Deans Ave she was shot again.
Nazer ran to a nearby house and called police. When it was safe to return to the mosque to look for his wife he was confronted with the horrifying scene of bodies everywhere.
He found her lying face down in the street.
"I ran towards her and then a police guy stopped me and told me to move somewhere else," he told CNN.
It took more than 24 hours for the tragic confirmation that Alibava was one of the 50 people killed.
The couple had an arranged marriage two years ago and quickly fell deeply in love, friends say.
Alibava had finished her master's degree just three weeks ago, after doing extra study last summer to finish faster.
A Givealittle page has been set up to help Nazer, who wishes to return his wife's body to Kerala, where her mother and brother live.
At this stage Nazer plans to remain in Christchurch, CNN said.
"She had so many dreams," he said. "No one would expect something like this would happen. There are a lot of good people here ... This shouldn't happen to any family."