Mahesh Agarwal, the owner of Haldiram Bhujiyawala (Pratik Food Products), died in Singapore on Friday, just past midnight (as per IST). He had chronic liver disease and had been treated at the hospital there for three months. Agarwal had to turn 57 on Saturday.
In the present circumstances, the distraught family had to decide on the cremation of the body that did not follow the Hindu cremation method on Friday itself, in accordance with the laws of that country. Agarwal’s bereaved wife, Meena, and Avni’s daughter, who had been with him this time, are desperate to return home, but they find it difficult to do so in the current situation.
The duo’s mother and daughter have tried to reach the embassy by filling out an online form that all the Indians stuck in Singapore are doing. The country is expected to depart for a lockdown on Tuesday, and as a result of the news that Meena and Avni had been able to gather, the Indians were informed that a flight will be arranged to carry them back to Delhi in the early hours of Wednesday, for which there is a scramble.
“We couldn’t save the kid, but the business back in Kolkata was suddenly left orphaned, and we have to go back to save it,” Avni said from Singapore. Agarwal’s got a son and three children. The eldest son of Pratik is in Kolkata, the eldest daughter of Anchal is a physicist and works with Sandisk in San Francisco, while the younger daughter of Antara is studying mathematics and computer science at Durham University. Agarwal had a critical liver condition and was flown to Singapore in January, where the family had been told of a transplant. The operation was successful, but he developed an infection after he transferred from the ICU to a high-dependency unit.
“The infection caused by candida Auris, according to the papers we got from the hospital,” Avni said.
The family was told that because Agarwal died of infection, no chance could be taken off his last rites; the body would be wrapped in a plastic bag along with the tracheostomy tubes he was carrying and placed inside an electrical incinerator. “We had to agree … it was so heartbreaking to see him go that way … but we were helpless,” Avni said. Ashes have been stored separately and the family will be able to take the urn when they leave the country. “We learn that no flights/trains operate until 15 April. How to get to Kolkata … we are writing to all our relatives to communicate with ministers, officials, both in the centre and in the state,” Avni said.