A sister who lost a loved one says, ‘I could not see her for the last time’

Story of someone who lost a sister during the lockdown.

Picture credit: Kritica Sarkar

Losing a family member is one of the most difficult experience someone has to go through, but never getting to see them or knowing that if someone had helped them the situation would have been different is much harder to endure. Anu explains what happened to her sister Jyoti and what she and her family had to go through due to it being a lockdown. Both the names Anu and Jyoti is an alias as Anu did not want their names to be public.

‘I am in Delhi due to my job’ says Anu, she says that her mother was in Silchar as she had to look over the construction work for their house, ‘Only my father was there with Jyoti in Shillong. Due to COVID-19, we were not allowed to travel.’ According to Anu, Jyoti was a very strong girl, ‘She was like a ray of sunshine in everyone’s life.’ She always looked at the bright side of things and made everyone happy.

Anu says she spoke with her sister on phone the night she committed suicide, ‘At around 11:30 pm we had a conversation for 10 to 15 minutes.’ She also says, ‘Jyoti was upset and said that she was fed up of everything.’ Jyoti wanted Anu to come back to Shillong but, due to the lockdown and travelling at a halt she said she would come after the situation was better. She says, ‘After a while, Jyoti was back to her quirky self and told me that she was fine.’ Anu says within an hour she got a call from her mom saying that Jyoti hung herself. Anu called her father, ‘He was holding Jyoti and asking for help from the neighbours. Not even a single person came out to help him.’ She then called Jyoti’s boyfriend and told him about the situation, but he thought it was a joke. She called many people, but nobody answered her call as it was late at night. Anu called her father’s friend and he picked up the call and after explaining to him what had happened, he asked him to go help his dad and he agreed to go there as soon as possible, ‘after 40 minutes I called him back as he did not go to my place yet and he told me the police were not letting him leave due to the lockdown.’

Picture Credit: Kritica Sarkar

Anu also called the ambulance and they told her there was no ambulance available and when she called them again, ‘they asked me to call the police first and then they could send the ambulance.’ She then called the police. Anu says, ‘My sister was still alive when our father found her. He gave her water and she drank it which means she was still alive then.’ She adds how she was alive for at least 40 minutes after the incident, but nobody wanted to help them.

Jyoti’s boyfriend arrived at her place and when the ambulance was not arriving, they tried to take her to the hospital themselves but the police who was patrolling the road due to the lockdown stopped them and so they had to wait. She also says, ‘The police made remarks on how Jyoti was already dead and so they should wait when she was still alive.’ ‘For more than two hours they were at home and nobody came to help or get her to the hospital.’ Says Anu. The ambulance then came and took her body to the hospital. Anu says, ‘If the ambulance had arrived on time my sister would have been alive today.’ She felt she was not doing anything to help them as she was far away from them.

‘I was trying to come back and the only way to reach Shillong was to travel by road’ says Anu. Nobody was ready to help her as it was a three-day journey by road, and she couldn’t come back. ‘My mom is in Silchar and my dad is with her alone’ says Anu. Her mother tried to get to them, ‘She was not allowed to enter Shillong due to the lockdown and travel ban.’ She says her uncle spoke with the State Magistrate and took special permission for the post-mortem to be done as soon as possible.

‘My father was in the police station from 6 AM to 6 PM waiting alone to take Jyoti’s body with him.’ Her body was given back and by 8 PM their father and Jyoti’s boyfriend left with her body to Silchar where their mother was. Anu says how after reaching Silchar nobody came to help them, ‘everyone thought she had COVID-19 and they were scared.’ She adds, ‘only six people were there and one of them was the ambulance driver. Not even one person cared.’

Picture Credit: Kritica Sarkar

When her parents returned to Shillong after the rituals, people started speculating her death without knowing anything about it, ‘They did not give any space to my family and started spreading lies.’ She then says that people do not understand the grief they were facing, ‘They just wanted to know what happened and why it happened.’ Jyoti says, ‘We do not know the real reason for her to commit suicide.’ and does not know how she can find out why she did it, ‘She deleted everything from her phone and there was nothing in it.'

Anu says that the system failed them and that if they would have done their work correctly she would still have her sister in her life, ‘Before all this, I was proud of our system and their service but after this, I cannot trust them anymore.’ ‘I could not see her for the last time. I could not even hug her and say goodbye’ says Anu. Jyoti was depressed but she never expressed it to anyone, ‘we can never know what is going on inside someone’s mind until they open up to us.’ Jyoti says, ‘I lost everything as she wasn’t just my sister but my friend and no one can take her place or replace her.’

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