The last memory that Raj Shekhar has of 21-year-old Mallepulla Shrikant is his "happy and smiling face" at 11.30 am on December 30. Seven hours later, he found his batch mate lying dead on the floor of his hostel room number 712.
"I had just returned from Shirdi, and Shrikant came to enquire about the trip. He looked happy and didn't show any signs of depression," said Shekhar.
On December 30, Shrikant - also known as Shrilu - a fourth-year BTech student pursuing electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), was found hanging from the fan at 6pm by a student from the next room.
According to the suicide note found in his room, "backlog of exams" that he needed to clear was the reason for his suicide. He had to clear two papers from his second year.
His body had been taken to the Rajawadi Hospital morgue for post-mortem. By 2.30 pm on Sunday, it was taken from the morgue to be flown to his home in Hyderabad.
Shrikant's mother and maternal uncle arrived in the city on Saturday midnight. He had lost his father a few years ago. Along with the family, his friends Arjun Arikeri and N Praneeth will also be present for the last rites in Hyderabad.
For his batchmates, the incident has come as a shock. They say Shrikant was talkative, fun-loving and certainly not an introvert. While Ashish Deswal agreed he had academic problems, he said,
"He had decided to appear for the papers in his last semester. He had recently taken a re-examination for a fourth-year paper and was confident of clearing it."
This is the first year that Shrikant was on campus for his birthday on December 7 as well as for Mood Indigo, the IIT-B inter-collegiate cultural festival, which ended on December 29. He did not want to miss any of it, because it was his last year in the IIT.
Other suicides at IIT Bombay
· In November 2003, 18-year-old Vartika Murthy hanged herself in her hostel room.
· In November 2005, Vijay Nakula (21) hanged himself in his hostel room due to poor academic performance.