Remembering Sunando Sen

Vigil at New York Copy ShopAnnie Fairman

Customers, friends and employees of the New York Copy Center returned to the re-opened store after the final day of religious rites were performed for Sunando Sen, who died on Thursday evening in Queens after being pushed onto the subway tracks.

sign outside of New York Copy Center, January 2ndAnnie FairmanAt New York Copy Center.

On Sunday, a yellow rose and handwritten sign were spotted outside of the store that read: “Sunando Sen A Beautiful Good Soul in Heaven Your Kindness Good Soul Gentle Heart Remembered Always!” As of today, others had written notes of regret and condolences on the paper, and a photo of Mr. Sen was posted along with text on the store’s front door. The outdoor vigil, composed of candles, cards, and flowers, had been moved inside to the front counter because of weather.

Helen, a resident of the East Village for over fifty years who declined to give her last name, has been a customer of the store since it opened roughly 16 years ago. “They had so many, but this place, with Sunando, he knew exactly how to handle everything graphically,” she said.

“I mean he really had a good touch,” said Helen, adding that they drew many of the neighborhood’s graphic artists to the store. “We are all mourning. We are very sad.”

Bidyut Sarker, 55, opened New York Copy Center in late 1995, and Mr. Sen helped him set up the businesses computer systems before they opened their doors. Though he had “no institutional education” in computers, Mr. Sarker said he taught himself complex software, often staying at the store until two or three in the morning working on the computer. After opening his own copy store on the Upper West Side, Mr. Sarker said the two would still call one another frequently for help. Smiling, Mr Sarker recalled how Mr. Sen would phone the store with any problems from the copy machine equipment, and Mr. Sarker would respond in kind with all computer questions.

“He was as a part of my family, as a brother,” said Mr. Sarker. “We are so shocked,” he added.

In his office on East Eleventh Street, Mr. Sarker pointed to photos behind his desk of his two sons as young children. The two young men, now ages 16 and 18, grew up knowing Mr. Sen. “When they are younger they used to come in the store and stay in the store” in lieu of hiring a babysitter.

“Each and every birthday he was there for my kids,” said Mr. Sarker.

Mr. Sen would often help Mr. Sarker’s elder son with math homework. “In any subject, you can ask him and he could talk with you,” said Mr. Sarker, adding that he was an avid reader with a great love for music, particularly classical.

Mr. Sen’s body was released on Saturday evening, and friends and family led religious ceremonies over three days, including a ceremony at St. Michael’s Cemetery on Sunday and a prayer service at Om Shakti Temple yesterday. Mr. Sarker said that an estimated 150 people attended yesterday’s ceremony, including religious leaders from the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faiths who offered prayers for peace upon his soul, as well as many people from Manhattan. Mr. Sen practiced the Hindu faith, and his body was cremated on Monday in accordance with tradition.

According to Mr. Sarker, many friends and neighbors have come in to cry and remember Sunando. Asked what happens now, Mr. Sarker shook his head.

“I have nobody – you know you know if I have any problem, in store or business, technical – I have nobody” to go to, said Mr. Sarker.

“He was one of a kind, you can tell.”