The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Secret Seven’ loses its soul
Family wiped out on night of mystery

Sharoni Bose’s last text message was to a friend at 11.24 on Sunday night — it said “ok”, confirming a rendezvous with her girl gang at a classmate’s Ballygunge house on Monday.

“We had communicated in snatches from 10.30 for about an hour and her last message was to me at 11.24. She had asked me whether the plan of meeting at our friend’s place was on and when I confirmed, she wrote back ‘ok’. Before that I was BBMing (BlackBerry messaging) to her about the film that I had watched at a multiplex on Sunday night,” said the friend who was last in touch with her.

Sharoni, an 18-year-old Class XII student of commerce at La Martiniere for Girls, was found dead along with her parents Supratim and Sangeeta, younger sister Saheli, grandfather Sudesh and pet dog Hazel early on Monday. Shocked friends — she was part of a close-knit group of La Martiniere girls who called themselves the Secret Seven — kept calling her cellphone through the morning, hoping against hope that the news they had heard was just a rumour.

“We had met for breakfast at a friend’s place in New Alipore only yesterday. We had planned to meet again later in the day but that did not materialise because somebody or the other was backing out. Now the seven of us won’t ever be together again,” said one of the girls, who would regularly sleep over in each other’s house.

According to the friend, Sharoni and she were to accompany a few classmates to their school on Monday afternoon to nominate new members to the Interact Club of La Martiniere for Girls, of which she was the director.

“Sharoni was such a lively and happy girl. We holidayed together in Mumbai from April 5 to 9 and shopped a lot. If something had been wrong in her life, she would have told us,” the friend said.

Sibling Saheli — a student of Class IX at La Martiniere — was relatively quieter, but no less active. Last December, she had gone trekking in Uttarakhand with friends.

“Both the girls were fairly good academically and regular in school. Their parents would also attend the interaction sessions with teachers regularly,” said Supriyo Dhar, the secretary of the La Martiniere schools.

Sharoni, who wrote her Class XII exams in March, aspired to be a lawyer and had been preparing for the Common Law Admission Test. “She had been taking tuitions for the test over the past two years. She would tell us that if she failed to crack the law entrance exam, she would opt for fashion communication at Symbiosis Institute of Design,” a close friend said.

Neighbours at Gangotri Apartment, 45E/15A Moore Avenue, described the Bose girls and their parents as a regular family who liked to keep to themselves. The family had bought the second floor of the four-storey apartment building some years ago from promoter Ashish Gupta, who kept the top floor for himself.

Sharoni and Saheli were often spotted jogging with their two dogs — Hazel, a female Labrador, and Muffin, the male Spitz who was the sole survivor in the tragedy. Sometimes, the girls would accompany one of their domestic workers to a nearby phuchka vendor.

Basudeb Roy, an elderly neighbour, said he saw more of the two dogs than members of the Bose family.

“I would sometimes notice the two girls coming home from school. But I saw the dogs every day. The family had employed a man named Ajay to walk them. I would often ask him to take the dogs off my lawn because I didn’t want them to dirty it,” Roy recounted.

Another neighbour said the Bose family, though a tad reserved, had many friends and would host parties at home regularly.

“We would hear music being played in their flat during such occasions. But it has just occurred to me that the Bose family hadn’t hosted any such party over the past few months,” he added.

Paltu Bhattacharya, who lives close by, described the Bose family as “decent people who didn’t mix much or meddled in anybody’s affairs either”. Those who knew them more closely, including former neighbour B.M. Misri and the landlord of Supratim’s Cornfield Road office, Mohan Sengupta, said the family was among the warmest and nicest people they knew.