Calcutta, Dec. 16: The husband was 65 and the wife 60. They had been a happy couple for close to 40 years. They had done their job well, their children were settled happily and they could not ask anything more of life. So they decided to end it after their last walk together.
Madan Lal Jain and his wife, Pushpa Devi Jain, after their favourite pastime for the last few years — the evening walk at Shibpur’s Botanical Gardens — jumped into the Hooghly on Sunday to avoid what both of them dreaded: living alone. That is what police managed to extract out of Madan while he was lying on his hospital bed, critically ill, and recorded it in a written statement.
Pushpa succeeded in her quest — she did not know how to swim — but Madan, who knew how to, survived a night in the Hooghly. He was discovered in a semi-conscious state — beside his wife’s lifeless body — on the opposite bank of the Hooghly at Maheshtala around 9 am on Monday.
Madan, a resident of Ballygunge, spoke to the police for 45 minutes before becoming unconscious. But before that he told investigators that both he and his wife — after a brief deliberation on Mahatma Gandhi Road near a relative’s place where they had been staying for the last three days — decided to choose simultaneous death as, otherwise, one of them would have to survive without the other.
“As one of us would have died first, life for the other would have been very painful,” Madan told the police. “We, therefore, decided to do away with that immense pain by ending our lives,” he added, explaining that the decision was not “irresponsible”.
Madan told the police that they had succeeded in doing everything they had set out to do in life and, therefore, did not want to “risk more of life” as that could have meant “separation”.
Back at the Maharshi Debendranath Tagore Street residence of their nephew in Posta, where Madan and Pushpa had been staying, relatives failed to see the elderly couple’s point. “Being happy in life does not imply you end it,” said nephew Birju Jain’s wife Manju.
The Jains used to live in Ballygunge and had a jute business.
“This family — a happy couple married for so many years, two sons both settled well and grandchildren — had everything going for it,” said South 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh.
Madan and Pushpa left their relatives’ residence a little after 5.30 pm on Sunday. They walked down Mahatma Gandhi Road — when they decided on the course they would give to their lives — and then took a bus to Botanical Gardens via Howrah station, police said.
The couple walked for some time at the riverside compound before jumping into the Hooghly. Though officials could not give the exact time — saying they believed it was around 7.30 pm — they said the two bodies, one of them still showing signs of life, were discovered around 9 am on Monday.