This story come to us from our colleague, Ishita Sanyal of Turning Point Mental Rehabilitation Centre in Kolkata, India. If you would like to share your story on our blog please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t call me the skeleton man. I am Partho. I love life. I enjoy being with my family. Let me tell you my story.
I had a very closely knit family. A family which was my life, my love, my everything. My family might have been a small one but it was a happy family. My parents, my sister and I lived happily in our own sweet world. My sister and I were brought up in a very protective way and were never allowed to spend much time with friends. I trusted my mother completely and knew whatever decision she took, it was always meant for our own good. I was a good student and at that point of my life, all I needed to stay content were my books and my family.
A black shadow engulfed our lives and life became difficult when my father left his job to settle down in Kolkata in his ancestral home. After returning to Kolkata my father started his own company but the business failed. It was a very difficult environment to live in where my parents and my uncles would constantly argue over property issues. I stopped trusting anyone. I started college and while I did well academically I did not engage with my peers and I was bullied. I was successful in my career and worked in the US for a time but had difficulties interacting with my colleagues and relied heavily on my family’s, mainly my mother’s, support. My life altered dramatically after my mother passed away and I came to rely on my sister. After being in constant conflict with my boss my sister advised me to quit my job.
My sister and I started living in the same flat and had two dogs which were like part of the family. We shut out the rest of the world. We only came out to order food locally which would be delivered to our doorstep. Our world was filled with advice from the Gurus which we would listen to almost all the time. My sister was a great singer and so we decided to release a music CD. I spent my time working on it. My sister, who also left her job, used to keep herself occupied drawing and colouring. Art and creativity sustained us along with quotes from our Guru.
When one of our dogs died, we were shattered and questioned everything. “What is happening to us? Why is everyone leaving us? Is this a curse? First it was our beloved mother and now our dog.” Shortly after, we lost the other dog too. We were certain there was a curse. My sister would pray and talk with the God all day. God directed her to keep on fasting to overcome the curse in our life.
Fasting made my sister weaker day by day and her frequent communication with God failed to keep her alive. I was traumatized. I stayed in that apartment and survived on soaked rice and Dhal. I never opened the door to order food. I was afraid. I never wanted to lose my sister. I tried to gather all my faith in resurrection again and prayed day in and day out. Each day I would listen to the recordings of my sister singing. I had the feeling that she was alive and with me.
My father contacted me and wanted to reconcile with me. He pushed a photograph of himself underneath our door with a message- “See I am old. I want to meet you. I love you, I don’t even know how long I shall live. Please allow me to be with you.” I realized my father was getting older and I didn’t want to lose him. I opened the door, came out and started communicating with my father. It was a relief for me. It was a throbbing pain to stay all alone. My dogs and my sister were not able to communicate with me. After a few days my father discovered that my sister had died. He was confused about what he should do. By this point, my sister’s body had turned into a skeleton.
My father was stressed. He was involved in a lawsuit over property with my uncle and I was helping him to prepare the petition. I think my father was unable to bear the stress and so he decided to take his own life. There was a fire and smoke and the building manager called the police. The police then discovered my sister’s body with the dogs in the apartment.
They asked about my sister and I managed to tell them about my faith in resurrection. The police came in to our apartment along with people from media. There was a real hype and they took me to jail. They thought I had killed my father, my sister and my dogs. I was charged under Section 269 (spreading infection) and Section 176 (not informing police of my sister’s death) of the Indian Penal Code. They also considered whether Section 304A (abetting suicide) could be applied in relation to not trying to save sister’s life during her act of self-starvation. Dozens of questions were asked at every moment – Whether I killed my own family members? What was the nature of my relationship with my sister? After this I was sent to Pavlov psychiatric hospital. It was the worst place to be locked up. I don’t want to remember those days. I made up my mind to only open up about what happened if I got the support of Missionaries of Charity where I used to go frequently.
I was allowed to meet with the Missionaries. After this things quickly started to improve. I was given a better room, medicines and food. I was allowed to leave the hospital a few days later and stayed in the homes of the Missionaries of Charity. I was feeling better. I started thanking God for this life. My case is still pending before the court and I have to appear before court when called. The court has allowed me to live alone and be independent. Now I live in a new apartment organised by Fr. Rodney Borneo of Archdiocese of Calcutta and I feel relieved. He helped me a lot in my recovery.
Father Borneo brought me to a community rehabilitation center – Turning Point. It has become a part of my new daily routine.
I enjoy communicating with others and I have been given a responsibility to teach computers there. Ishita Sanyal, the director of the center is including me in some official work which makes me feel valued in life again. I have taken part in a few programs with Turning Point too. I have been stigmatized by the media and the legal system and I want to change their perception of me. I want to be Partho again, enjoying life, healing and creating a bridge with people in the community. I want to work with Turning Point and help others who are in pain.