Circumstances cut short young man's big dreams

DUBAI — A obedient son, a loving brother and a great friend. This is how relatives describe A.Venkatesan, the Indian worker who committed suicide in his Satwa camp last week.

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Fri 17 Dec 2004, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:30 PM

"He told me that he would come back in a few months time and eat my appams again," recounted Lakshmi, Venkatesan's older sister.

In a telephone interview with Khaleej Times from her village in Chennai, India, the 28-year-old mother of two recounted the hardship with which her family underwent in order to send Venkatesan to Dubai for work.

"He was very keen to go there as he felt that he could make a lot of money and our family's situation might improve considerably. We spent about Rs 150,000 for his air tickets and work permit and he jokingly told us that he would return to the village like a king with presents for everyone," continued Lakshmi, her voice choking with emotion.

Arriving in Dubai in January 2004, Venkatesan worked as an electrician for a Dubai-based company. Heavily depressed and unable to send any money back home to his family, he took the drastic step of taking his own life.

A pall of gloom hangs over Pennadam, the village from where he hailed from ever since the news of his death reached them.

"The whole family has been admitted to the hospital ever since we came to know of his death and everybody has just been crying and weeping. My mother and younger sister have been unable to take this news and are still in a state of shock. If we knew that this would happen, we would have never send him there in the first place," said Lakshmi.

Being the sole breadwinner of his family, Venektesan's family depended on his salary to re-pay the loan they had taken from the local money lender. With his death, the burden of repaying the loan has come on his older brother's shoulders, who Lakshmi says, is unable to earn enough to sustain all of them.

"We have to pay Rs4000 as interest every month to the money lender. This is in addition to the actual loan that we have taken. Velnnurugum, our elder brother, manages to get work only a few days in a month and the rest of the time he has to look for jobs. My father is 65 years old and is too old for work. In such a situation, we were completely dependent on Venkatesan for our monthly expenses," continued Lakshmi.

When asked whether the family was ever aware of his depression, Lakshmi replied, "Venkatesan was the sort of person who would never confide in us even if he was in some sort of trouble. We had no clue what he was going through as every week he would call us and say that everything is fine. His death came as a rude shock for all of us." The suicide note which he left for his family is a testament of his love for them. In it, he pleads for his friends to help them after his death and especially mentions his 20-year-old sister, Kasturi, for whom he wanted to send money for her marriage.

"He was very worried about Kasturi even when he was here. The last time he spoke to her, he told her that he would ensure that her marriage is conducted on a grand scale," said Lakshmi.

Meanwhile, officials from Venkatesan's company say that the police report would be handed to them by Saturday after which the formal proceedings for the repatriation of his body would begin.

"We are expecting the report by Saturday and have already contacted the Indian Consulate for their help in the processing of the formalities. Everybody concerned have been informed of this including his family and the recruiting agent who hired him in India," said the official. "We are also planning to compensate the family, in addition to the salary dues we owe him".

K.M. Venugopalan, labour consul, Indian Consulate, confirmed that Venkatesan's body was still in the custody of the police. "Until the investigations are complete, the body cannot be repatriated. As soon as the case is resolved, we would help the company with all the necessary formalities to ensure the speedy repatriation of his body," he said.

Excerpts from Venkatesan's last note for his family

"My family means everything to me. My older sister has two daughter's and I have only seen the face of one of them and do not think its possible to see my second niece in this life. I am very worried about my youngest sister's marriage and education and want my friends to help my family out in any way possible after my death."

A day before his death he borrowed 50 fils from a room mate to buy a postage stamp to post the letter to his family.

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