We used to think suicide pacts were a thing one would only read of in books and television shows, but we were wrong. When it comes to the mysterious case of the Ranthidevans’ suicide pact, no one will ever know if it was an act of life mirroring fiction, or something else entirely.
A story as haunting as it is peculiar, that happened in Merces, a little village around 10kms from Panaji, a place where literally nothing ever happens. The couple in question, 39-year-old Anand Ranthidevan and 36-year-old Deepa Ranthidevan, were found days after they had hung themselves on October 3, 2011. Mumbai Mirror‘s piece on the case recounts the circumstances surrounding this puzzling tale, the details of a story as hazy as the couple it is about.
The Ranthidevans moved into their fourth floor apartment four years before their death, and kept entirely to themselves. They made quite an impression on the neighbours when they introduced themselves with “We are Anand and Deepa Ranthidevan, and we are unemployed.” Soon, Anand was working as a professor at the Goa Institute of Management (GIM) and Deepa would freelance from home. A neighbour said that the Ranthidevans would speak to no neighbours, kept no maids, and always took the stairs, “perhaps to avoid unnecessary elevator conversations.” No one took any notice of them, and simply assumed they were shy. Neighbours told Mumbai Mirror that both Anand and Deepa shaved their heads within a few months, and “wouldn’t step out of their house for days, sometimes weeks. Then they would suddenly leave without a word, and not return for a month.”
The only kind of information any neighbours gleaned was from their trash. “Other residents knew that they rarely cooked at home, that they were obsessive about cleanliness, and that they were heavily into books and cinema.” Strangely, they would throw out every novel they read and every DVD they watched, presumably after they were done with them. Soon, they started throwing out their clothes, their furniture, everything.
Around five days before their death, the Ranthidevans checked in to Panaji’s Taj Vivanta, and allegedly returned on October 3. We say allegedly, because no one remembers seeing them return. It was only on October 5, when neighbours couldn’t bear the foul stench, that they started to investigate. They realised that the house was locked from the inside, and the smell was coming from inside, following which they called the police on October 6. Beat constables came to check, and recognised the smell. They said it was rotting human flesh. Senior policemen checked, and when they looked into the window of the master bedroom, they saw the source of the smell — Deepa and Anand’s hanging bodies, which had bloated and fused together.
The autopsy didn’t reveal any terminal illnesses that could’ve explained their act, nor did their suicide note, which said, “We have lived a very eventful and happy life together. We’ve travelled the world, lived in different countries, made more money than we ever thought possible, and enjoyed spending as much of it as we could on things that brought us joy and satisfaction. We believe in the philosophy that our life belongs to us and only us, and we have the right to choose to die as much as we have the right to live. We leave behind no debts or liabilities… We have kept Rs 10,000 in an envelope for expenses. We are making this decision in our individual capacities.”
Both Anand and Deepa’s parents were contacted; neither came to cremate them. Anand’s family, who Anand was completely estranged from, on account of their disapproval of Deepa, did not come. The couple left nothing to Anand’s family, but left their house to Deepa’s mother. Deepa’s parents, both of whom had severe knee problems, sent a lawyer to take care of the last rites.
Colleagues remember Anand as intelligent, as a “great communicator who rarely spoke,” who practically never hung out with anyone or shared anything personal. When Anand resigned from the job, he only said that he did not belong to a life of academia. After he left, for three years, he spent his time with Deepa, honing their love for animals, travelling together, or in their apartment.
Nearly everyone who reads about the Ranthidevans is taken aback. Like Anand’s love for Stephen King, perhaps we all have a love for the macabre which rears its head when we hear of the Ranthidevans. When reality is stranger than fiction, who wouldn’t be curious?
H/T: Mumbai Mirror