For the Purakaits of Howrah’s Gadiara, the first day of festivity was marked by tragedy.
On the auspicious day of Mahalaya, one of the five brothers of the family and his wife committed suicide by consuming poison at their rented apartment in Dinesh Pally, Regent Park.
Piklu Purakait, 30, and wife Mou, 25, consumed poison on Wednesday afternoon after a quarrel broke out between them over their being childless, police said, quoting neighbours.
They were taken to MR Bangur Hospital, where Piklu and Mou died within hours of each other, early on Thursday. The couple was married for over four years and had often bickered over not having a baby.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that not having a child drove the couple to take the extreme step,” said Swapan Paul, inspector in charge of Regent Park police station. “They were often depressed as they did not have a child,” confirmed Mahadeb, Piklu’s brother.
Some neighbours suggested that the two had planned their suicide. Not so long ago, they had apparently inquired about when pitripaksha (the time of offering prayers to the ancestors) would end and devipaksha (heralding the arrival of goddess Durga with her family) would commence. devipaksha set in on Thursday.
“It appears as if they had planned to end their lives on Mahalaya. They were so young, one really does not know why they took this drastic step. We are, however, trying to ascertain whether they were undergoing treatment at an infertility clinic,” said a senior district police official.
Piklu and Mou were residents of Gadiara who fell in love and got married four years ago. Piklu ran a small but profitable business of supplying construction material. They shifted to the Dinesh Pally address in 2001.
They spent the past 10 days in Gadiara and returned on Wednesday. It was past lunchtime when a girl from the locality spotted the couple vomiting in their room and heard them shouting in pain. The girl alerted the neighbours who rushed the couple to hospital.
A pall of gloom descended over the area on Mahalaya, with most residents convinced that the couple had planned their suicide coinciding with the beginning of devipaksha.
“Mou came to me a few days ago and inquired about the auspicious hour marking the arrival of the goddess,” said a neighbour.