The shocking and tragic story of Mumbai-born Lyvita Gomes, 52, who died in the US, after reportedly going on a hunger strike to protest her arrest, has left her brother in much grief and anger. While Gomes' funeral will take place in the first week of February in Illinois, her brother Oydsteven Gomes, who works as a media professional in Mumbai, in all likelihood, will not attend the event. Oydsteven is afraid that their only other family member, their 94 year-old father, who lives with Oydsteven and has not been told about Gomes' death, will need to be taken care of.
When contacted, Oydsteven said, "The news of her death has shocked me. My father had only just begun to recover from malaria, when I learnt about what had happened through some mutual friends."According to news reports in the US, Gomes died on January 3 from dehydration and malnutrition, after going on a hunger strike for 15 days. She had reportedly received a jury duty questionnaire on July 5, 2011, which she was ineligible for since she was a non-US citizen. She had ignored the mail, as it was later found unopened.
A judge then demanded an explanation, which she again ignored, leading to her arrest on October 12. She apparently resisted arrest by refusing to offer her hands for handcuffing and struggled, as she was led away, earning her a misdemeanor for resisting arrest.
While the summons charge for ignoring jury duty was dropped, the charge for resisting arrest remained. She did not show up for two more hearings in the case, prompting another arrest on December 14.
Oydsteven, however, is shocked by how a simple case of ignoring summons, culminated in so harsh a result.
"When they realised that she was starving herself, why didn't the authorities go back to where she lived and try to contact her family members? Why wasn't proper medical care provided? This simple question 'why?' echoes in my heart. I only know about the death from what I read online," he says, before adding, "Would they have done this to an American?"
"All I can say is she seemed happy when she called us on birthdays, Christmas, Easter and New Year. She last spoke to our dad on December 14," said Oydsteven. The younger sibling refutes claims that his sister may have suffered from a mental ailment, as speculated by some foreign news reports. Her career, as Oydsteven points out, is indicative of a strong-headed career woman.
Her resum � ran into five pages and had the names of illustrious educational institutes like St Xavier's College and Sophia College. She joined Pan American Airlines as a flight attendant in 1986, and later joined Delta Airlines in 1991. She held multiple specialisations, including a Masters in Organisational Development and Change.
She moved to the US in 2000.