A pall of gloom hung over the house of Carmine Barboza at Shirva village in Udupi district of Karnataka on Saturday. The news of the death of her daughter-in-law Jacintha Saldanha, who was a nurse in London, had just reached her.
A similar mood prevailed in Ms. Saldanha’s maternal home in Mangalore.
Ms. Saldanha (46) was working as a nurse at the King Edward VII Hospital, where a pregnant Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was admitted for acute morning sickness on December 3.
Ms. Saldanha had forwarded a hoax call by two RJs of an Australian radio station, impersonating Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, to the nurse treating the Duchess on December 4. This led to a controversy over revelation of the medical condition of the Duchess. Media reports suggest that Ms. Saldanha had felt “very lonely and confused” as a result of the controversy.
Speaking to journalists, Ms. Barboza, said she first heard the news from a journalist. “I do not know anything more about Jacintha’s death. I am extremely sad,” she said.
Ms. Barboza said her son Benedict and Jacintha last visited her in December 2011. They came to attend a wedding and also celebrated Christmas. “Benedict and Jacintha used to call me once a week,” she said, fighting back tears.
The couple, married for 20 years, have two children – Junal (16) and Lisha (14) – both studying in the U.K. “Don’t ask me any more questions. I am feeling sick,” Ms. Barboza said.
Veena Saldanha, the nurse’s sister-in-law, said in Mangalore that there was no clear information about the circumstances that led to Ms. Saldanha’s death. The death news was not broken till late in the morning to her mother, who lives with Veena and her husband Naveen. Ms. Saldanha had studied at Fr. Muller College of Nursing in Mangalore.
Irene D’Souza, Benedict’s sister, said she came to know of the tragedy when Benedict called her. “He said he was informed by the police. He told me to convey the sad news to the family. We do not have any information if her body would be brought here [to India],” she said.
A clergyman in the Lady of Health Church, Shirva, said no official communication about the death was given to the parish. However, the death was announced in the evening prayer on Saturday in Shirva and condolences were offered.