Shalini Mehra lived with the body of her dead mother for four months and didn't know it. On Saturday, the police removed the decomposed body of 81-year-old Vinodini Gupta from their Saket house.
The body was spotted by a Delhi Jal Board staffer who visited the house to check a water meter.
Life for Mehra is spent within the confines of the four rooms of the ground floor house. The top two floors of the house were sold off and apparently the mother-daughter duo had been living off that money.
For the neighbours, it was a house of mystery. The only contact Mehra, who is in her mid-40s, had with the outside world was with the delivery boys who came with the orders of pizzas and burgers.
Mehra does not let anyone enter the house and makes it a point to open the door only after seeing the person on the other side through the door camera. She doesn't have a cook or domestic help. Her car, a Maruti 800 parked outside, hasn't been taken out for ages.
When Hindustan Times visited Mehra's house in D Block, Saket, she appeared to be in a state of denial.
"Yes, my mother died in her sleep but that was in October-November last year. She was a sweet woman and did lot of things for others. I bought so many sarees for her from Bangalore and Defence Colony," said Mehra who spoke to Hindustan Times while peeping out from the door all the time.
The house was dimly lit.
"The body that was found here was not my mother's, it belonged to a Golf Links-based builder who dumped it here," she said.
Mehra's daughter Rihanna, an MBBS student who lives in Bangalore, had to come to Delhi to complete the formalities.
Mehra's closest contact, her elder sister Yogmaya Gupta who lives in Hauz Khas Enclave, was informed about the incident.
"I have not visited them for the past several months and I am not bound to tell anything," said Aditya Gupta, Mehra's nephew.
Mehra had separated from her husband 20 years ago. Neighbours said that Mehra's father — Purushottam Lal Gupta — was quite well off and had moved to Delhi in the 1970s.
Mehra's neighbours said they were not interested in her life as she was a recluse.
Believe it or not
No one had access to the mother-daughter's house.
The body had been rotting for the past four months but surprisingly the neighbours did not find anything amiss.
They had no visitors and never left the house.
The house has no ventilation
Always ordered food from outside, never bought groceries or vegetables.