On 8 November, a rice-farming family from Naiwala village, in Punjab’s Sangrur district, drove five kilometres to Khanauri, a town near the Haryana border. For the past two days, they had been looking for one of their relatives: 95-year-old Kundan Singh.
Kundan’s nephew Manu told me that over the previous three months, his uncle, who struggled with diabetes and depression, had begun to talk about ending his life. On 6 November, Kundan drank his afternoon tea and hitched a ride on a motorbike to the Bhakra main line canal. He drowned himself there, leaving a slipper and his jacket at the water’s edge. A note in the jacket pocket read: No one is responsible for my death but me.
“I don’t understand it,” another of Kundan’s nephews, Dilraj, said. “He was a religious man. He wasn’t even financially dependent on his family.” In 1947, Kundan moved to Singapore to work as a bank manager. He returned to India in 2001 “because he didn’t want to die alone, in a coffin, in a foreign land,” Dilraj said. “And now, this.”