Palanichamy worked in Saudi Arabia as a construction labourer for a Jubail-based construction company. Sumathi received a midnight call on September 16, 2013, informing her of her husband’s suicide.

Sumathi is waging a lone battle – a battle to lay claim to the body of her husband Palanichamy in a distant land she has only heard of.

Palanichamy had taken up a job in Saudi Arabia as a construction labourer for a Jubail-based construction company in June 2012. But fifteen months later, Sumathi received a midnight call on September 16, 2013, informing her of her husband’s suicide. A Karaikal-based man, who was sharing her husband’s rented accommodation, called her to tell that Palanichamy was found hanging from the ceiling.

Four months on, a devastated Sumathi, mother of two children and working as a domestic help, is running from pillar to post, with no means, to secure the body.

Palanichamy was working for Arkan Construction Company. “He called me every day. The last time we spoke was on the night of September 14, when he assured me things would get better for us. I did not receive a call the next day, and so I tried calling him, but there was no answer. On September 16, I was informed that he was dead,” Sumathi told The Hindu.

Sumathi petitioned Collector A.Muthamma, voicing suspicion over her husband’s death. She wanted an autopsy and assistance for bringing the body back. When contacted, Ms.Muthamma says, “We wrote to the Indian Embassy through the Home department immediately, and sent her affidavits with a request for a post-mortem. We were told that the processes for autopsy would take two months.” Later, Sumathi decided to give up her demand for autopsy. “We sent revised affidavits putting across her plight. But, there is absolutely no information on the status yet,” says Ms.Muthamma. “I have also written for compensation and dues from the company.”

Sumathi has knocked on all doors. Theirs was a love marriage, forged against family’s opposition. With no one to mourn her loss, Sumathi fights an uphill battle.

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