Partha De lived with his parents and sister for the better part of his 46 years, but loneliness remained the leitmotif of his life.
Though he was deeply attached to his parents and sister, he rarely spoke to them. After they died, De found silent camaraderie in the walls of his room and a few books collected through the years. Even two days after he decided to end his lonely life with the help of a bottle of petrol and a matchbox inside the toilet of a 11th floor city apartment, nobody cared enough to help him along on his last journey.
De’s body lay unclaimed in the confines of a police morgue on Thursday, alone even in death.
The former Infosys employee had hit the headlines in June 2015, when he was found to be living at the family’s Robinson Street residence with the skeletons of his sister, Debjani, and two dogs. While the incident gained him a certain degree of “fame”, it further alienated him from a populace that had never understood him to begin with.
Police said they were trying to contact De’s relatives, but nobody seemed interested in taking the body for the last rites. “We will wait for seven days before cremating the body,” said Sudhir Sarkar, deputy commissioner (port division), Kolkata Police.
Even experienced investigators were unable to get a sneak peek into the world De seemed to be living in. A few police officers who came into contact with De described him as a sensitive soul who could sing Tagore’s songs. In the apartment where he set himself on fire, police found a copy of ‘You Can, You Will’ – a book written by motivational speaker Joel Osteen – indicating that De was trying to regain confidence in himself.
Police were yet to get in touch with Missionaries of Charity, a charitable organisation that had sheltered De between 2015 and 2016. “We can’t contact them. They have to approach us,” said Sarkar, quoting from the rule book.
Ironically, even as De’s body lies unclaimed, people have already begun speculating on the fate of the property he left behind. The spacious house on Robinson Street – a posh area off Loudon Street – is worth several crores of rupees. There are rumours that De had sold it off to a real estate promoter for over Rs 40 crore, some of which was used to buy the Watgunge apartment where he killed himself on Tuesday. The rest of the cash, in all probability, still lies untouched in his bank accounts.
The house on 23 Kottah now stands lonely and forlorn, a poignant relic of what should have been the happy family of Arobindo De – a respected member of the society. After all, the man had everything one could wish for – a wife, a son, a daughter and a big house in a posh locality.
However, the four members scripted a tale that the country will recall with dread for years to come. After Arobindo’s wife died in 2005, his daughter opted for the spiritual path and gradually renounced all earthly pleasures. Ten years later, she starved herself to death in front of her brother and father. They, in turn, took the equally macabre decision of living with her decomposing body for six long months.
In June 2015, Arobindo set himself on fire, probably because he was unable to come to terms with the past. Nearly two years later, De followed suit – snuffing out the last vestige of a troubled family.