Friday, September 21, 2007

Lesson 22: Claim your dead for Rs 3000/- only

Originally titled: Nanamma
Contributed by: Citizen Mads


Greetings people. Lots of angry tales, na? Too much heat and all. You want chilling? Here.

Prologue:
Husband and self, having brought in the New Year, were fast asleep. Suddenly, a phone call wakes me up. My brother.
‘Nanamma’s been stabbed.’
This is no time to tell you what nanamma means, but still. Grandmother. Father’s mother.
‘You’ve downed a few, right?’
‘I’m dead sober.’
Next thing I know, I’m at dad’s place taking charge of the situation.
‘Nobody touch anything.’
My grandma’s dead. Murdered.
This is supposed to happen in films.
Blood on the walls, the sheets, all over my dead grandmother. I huddle the family in one corner of the house and call the police.

They come and start examining the place. There’s a knife in the loo. Dog squad arrives. Neighbours are enjoying the show. After all the investigation’s over, the cops leave. The relatives are here. The drama begins.

Curtain opens:
Twilight. Cremation ground. Funeral scene.
Nanamma has been brought here in a van straight from Cooper hospital after an autopsy, and a bribe of Rs. 3000. For those who don’t know, Cooper is the municipality hospital in Bombay where all cases of unnatural death that side of town are taken for post-mortem. The police and doctors do some paperwork and lock the body of your loved one till you pay up.

Scene 2:
Back home after the cremation. The media is waiting at the door.
Tell me, is the police legally allowed to drag the media into people’s personal lives?1 (NO, every citizen HAS a right to privacy. The police and the media play on the fact that no one will push them away or sue them. PLEASE sue the media.)
Cameras, mikes, reporters. “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?” I roll up my sleeves, “Come, I’ll show you kaisa lag raha hai.”

Sure enough, the next morning’s papers have us splashed all over them. Long lost friends and relatives dig up our numbers and call to find out kya hua. Trying my best not to lash out, I say. “Jo papers mein likha hai wahi hua.”
The Aaj Tak guys even come to the condolence meeting and dig people for information.

Intermission.

For those who don’t know, here goes. She was in her room; my dad was in the next room. The rest were out for the New Year’s eve parties. She’d probably put up a fight. There were signs of struggle. Knowing her, she wouldn’t give up so soon. She was just back from hospital having beaten age and illness black and blue. Coming back to her body. Diamond earrings, and some gold ornaments she wore were missing. She had been stabbed in several places. And a cushion had been use to muffle her screams. (It was blood-soaked). Yes, she always slept with the windows wide open.

Scene 3:
A dull script would have the police solve the case, get the bad guys and thus help the family, right? Not in this one, though.
Apparently, in such cases, the prime suspect is the family. Dad, mom, brother, us, everyone was subjected to days and days of questioning. And still more questioning. The cops went questioning our neighbours, doodhwala, sabziwala, dhobi, maidservant.
Everyone we even met on the roads, shook hands with or spoke to were caught hold of. Plainclothes cops were all over.
Was my dad a good son? Did mom have fights with nanamma? Was there property involved? We lost a lot of friends who, we realised later, were never friends anyway. The true friends were with us rock-solid. They spoke, gave statements, and did everything they could to help us (bless them all).

Grand finale:
The 13th day ceremony at home. Relatives pouring in. When my family was working round-the-clock to serve nanamma while she was in hospital, none of these even cared to ask if we needed any help. And all these relatives are here to watch the show and point fingers. How could you let it happen? You didn’t take good care of her! You got the family involved with police. All this from people who never bothered about her when she was alive! Curtain closes on my dad who loved and served his mother all his life, now in the middle of all this unpleasantness. His own people accusing him. His friends deserting him. His trust broken to shreds. His mother gone in such a terrible way.

Epilogue:
Mom was out of town when all this happened. She arrived on the morning after the murder, from Rishikesh with Gangajal. Little did she know how soon we’d have to use it.
The windows we loved keeping open now have strong grills that block the view and breeze. We never ever leave my parents or my old father-in-law alone.
And yes, we don’t celebrate the New Year any more.
What happened to the killers nobody knows.
The police never got back to us.
The media never came to follow up the case.

After ruling the headlines for some two days, my nanamma became part of the statistics on the senior citizens’ murders happening all over the city. Our wounds are yet to heal.

Mads' comments:
I too will grow old some day. I don’t know if my children will live with me. Nanamma died like this in spite of living with a family. I’m scared. I can only pray.
PS. If any of my so-called friends/relatives manages to read this, I advice you to stay away from my family. If any of you bothers my people with more questions in the wake of this blog, I swear, I’ll come after you with a hatchet.

PS: And pass on the addresses if you need to Mads, you got another hatchet here. REQUEST to people: BAN the media in times of personal tragedy. Please understand, Indian media SUCKS at follow-ups. Half the time they suck at getting the basics right. Yes, I am from the media and YET I request, DON'T talk in times of tragedy. It's like giving a carnivore a taste of blood. And next time a media person asks, "How are you feeling?", just slap them hard and repeat the question to them. Period.

Beginning 2007, or late 2006 there was a double murder in R block, Greater Kailash 1; one of THE shopping and moneyed hubs in Delhi. An old couple was hammered and clubbed to death, no stabs or quick demise... A blunt object was used and NOTHING was missing. The next door neighbours to the deceased couple happen to be a lead singer (and wife) of a much-loved band. We were all in shock. The murders were committed in the afternoon. There are full-time, stay-at-home househelps in both the houses. No one heard a thing. What were the chances that the murderers should have chosen that house and not the house next door? My friends' house? The case is STILL unresolved.

1 comment:

Care Bear said...

It is heart breaking indeed even more when many things stay unanswered.And to go through such terror at an old age not knowing it is death.....

Many times people just don't know how to react to such situations and what to say,or whether to say anything at all to the people who are close to the victim.

And the media, all they care for is a news story.We all know that.Its sad.And as long as there isn't a power to pressurise the police to investigate....they too will move on without doing much.

I do pray for you and your family to heal and feel at peace,preserving the good memories of your grandmother.