A strange series of events recently unraveled an 11-year-old mystery: a woman in India, reported missing in 2010, was discovered to have been secretly living with her romantic companion—located next door to her family’s home—for a decade.
According to The Indian Express, the woman—referred to only as “Sajitha”—disappeared from her village in the state of Kerala when she was just 18 years old. Over a decade later, her family had abandoned hope that she might ever be found. However, when the man she ran off with was recently reported missing by his own family, a domino effect of discoveries led back to Sajitha.
The saga began in February 2010, when Sajitha reportedly left her home and walked to Alinchuvattil Rahman’s house, 500 meters away. There, she spent a decade living in a spare single room without the knowledge of Rahman’s other family members, with whom he shared the home.
According to his brother Basheer, Rahman was intensely secretive about his spare room: he reportedly kept it locked and refused entry to anyone but himself. And, because of his alleged bad temper, Rahman’s parents didn’t push the issue further—and instead, allowing the odd behavior to continue.
“Sometimes he behaved like a mentally deranged person, would turn violent if someone tried to get into his room,” explained Basheer to The Indian Express. “He would even take his food in to eat… During the day, as everyone was at work, Rahman and Sajitha would have the house to themselves.”
Meanwhile, police looked fervently for Sajitha at the time of her disappearance. She reportedly didn’t have a cell phone, and there was no reason for authorities to suspect that she might have been with the then-24-year-old Rahman.
The couple’s secrecy regarding their relationship stemmed from their differing religious backgrounds: they reportedly feared the response they would receive if they were to take their relationship public.
Throughout the years, Sajitha occupied herself by watching a small TV with headphones, reported The Indian Express. Because the room was not equipped with a bathroom, she would go through the room’s window at night to relieve herself.
The decade-long mystery finally began to unravel when, about three months ago, Sajitha finally left Rahman’s house for unknown reasons. The same day, Rahman reportedly got in a fight with his family and also left, and soon after, his family filed a missing person report on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Rahman and Sajitha set up in another village. According to The Indian Express, it was there that Basheer “spotted [Rahman] by chance” and uncovered the couple’s secret, thus bringing the mystery to a close.
Police brought the couple in front of a court, where Rahman explained that he hid Sajitha for all those years out of fear that his family would not accept her. However, there is still no answer as to why Sajitha chose to stay in the small room for so many years.