Friday, July 9, 2010

The Machete Murders

Report in the newspaper ‘Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Ariyilla Nagar. July 9, 2010. A sustained effort by the city police to nab the suspect in the triple-murder case known as ‘Machete Murders’ bore fruit, with last night’s arrest of the suspect.

Commissioner Prasad held a brief press conference late last night in which he revealed that the suspect is being interrogated and that the arrest took place at the suspect’s residence in Ariyilla Nagar. The commissioner did not reveal the identity of the suspect and he mentioned that all the details will be released once the suspect has been charged.

The triple ‘Machete Murders’ case involved the brutal decapitation, in a period of nine weeks, of the headmaster of a reputed city school, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and the managing director of a MNC based in the city. The murder of the three well-respected individuals had created an atmosphere of fear and helplessness in the city and the citizens along with various political organizations had staged two hartals and various protests. The city MP released a high-brow tweet last night as a sign of solidarity with the netizens, ‘relieved our protests managed to murder city’.

In a statement released to the press, Commisioner Prasad has stated that he is now in-charge of the case and he lauded the efforts of Inspector Shankar who was the lead-investigator and prime-force behind the investigation. Shankar was not available for comment and a reliable source revealed that he is recovering from minor injuries suffered during the investigation.

The Case Of The Machete Murders by Mrs. Srividya Shankar
I am Srividya Shankar, the proud wife of Inspector Shankar, the principal investigator in the Serious Crimes Unit. Here, I will try to provide a thorough description of the case of the Machete Murders. Please excuse me when I am overly verbose. It is my first attempt after all and possibly my last too, once he gets to know.

For long, I have dreamt of being Dr. Watson to my Holmes. I have always followed my husband’s cases with keen interest. I guess I should mention right here that Shankar has never responded favourably in any fashion, and worse, he has tried to impede any interest from my side. But I will touch upon that a little later.

To understand the case of the Machete Murders, it is important to understand Shankar and his life.

Ours was an arranged marriage. On the tenth day after our wedding, we kissed for the first time. We made a pact to leave our old baggage at the door. Does the past really matter? Now, with hindsight, it seems to matter. I might sound like the new-age freaks who advise on marriage and parenting, but we did build our partnership on trust, respect and understanding; at least, mostly.

We have two kids, Lakshmi and Shiva, aged 14 and 11 respectively. He spoils them rotten but he is a good father. Our daughter is like him and my son is more like me; but as Shankar says, we have the duty to make our daughter be like the mother and the son to be like him; and, that will be our failing, he also says. Let them be, that is the advice we get. With anyone you love, how can you let them be? I know that I am trying to make it sound like a fairy-tale. It is never so, is it?

Initially, I had problems sitting at home, being a homely wife; and then, the usual ‘in-law’ problems. When will it be politically incorrect to use that term? Both of us have the clichéd ‘love to hate, hate to love’ relationship with our respective in-laws. I know that I will also be so, if given the chance. I will also try to make my daughter-in-law a daughter who will have to listen to me and she will know that I put up with her because I love my son. As for my son-in-law, I hope I do not have to see him that often, especially if I have to cook for him. But, everything is fine now, like a fairy-tale. Except when he is on a really serious case…

When he is on a case, he is a man I would rather not know. Once, soon after our wedding, my husband’s mentor Commisioner Prasad spoke to me in private. He told me that Shankar is very sensitive. I suppose he was telling me that my husband could ‘snap’. Ironical, isn’t it, about who snapped at last?

During the last case involving a “Ripper”, once when he shouted at the kids without reason, I confronted him later in the bedroom. I asked him why he cares more about the murdered whores than us, his family who loves him. He did not hit me but he crushed me hard against the wall with his body, his face close to mine and snarled that it is because he lives with the horror that evil could visit those he loves, anytime. I saw madness in his eyes. He is not at all nice then. During those months in which he is haunted by a case, we do not even make love, if at all it is just brutal sex. Why am I writing all this? I should not, I know.

I was a house-wife, or is it home-maker these days, till the second child was three. Then, I joined as faculty in the multi-disciplinary institute in the city. It feels good to have time and a life of your own. Our parents help a lot with the kids. It allows me to stay late when I have to complete some line of research. Typically, both Shankar and I get back home before eight with enough time for the four of us to eat together and catch up on each others’ lives.

Now, let me briefly go through the machete murders.

On May 10, 2010, the city was surprised with heavy thunder shower that started around 14:00. By 18:30, it was dark and in several areas of the city, including the area around the Passion School, there was power-outage due to trees that had fallen on electric lines. The murderer, with a carry-bag on the left shoulder, entered the premises of the Passion School unnoticed at 18:45 and went directly to the office of the headmaster who was known to work late. The murderer knocked on the door of the headmaster’s office and entered the room after the headmaster asked the visited to enter. The headmaster was sitting at his desk, with a bright lamp-cum-torch, behind a pile of Geography answer papers waiting to be marked. They were alone in the building. The murderer asked the headmaster, “Do you remember Ashwin Gangadharan?” Despite the dim light of that torch, the murderer could see recognition enter the headmaster’s eyes. Then, without any further hesitation, with two steps to get near enough, the murderer took out the machete from the carry-bag, and brought it with a mighty and strong swing to and through the headmaster’s neck. The murderer then exited the premises.

Ashwin studied in that school 20 years back. In the ninth grade, he was abused by a teacher, a paedophile. Ashwin did not reveal this at home but he brought it to the attention of the headmaster. The headmaster reprimanded the teacher in private but allowed him to continue as a teacher in that school. Then, the headmaster called Ashwin’s father to the school, informed him that his son should leave the school because he is a homosexual. Nobody thought of asking Ashwin whether it is true or not, definitely not in those days. Ashwin committed suicide that night. His father died within a year. Nobody knew about this.

The modus operandi remained the same for the other two murders of Dr. Sathyaraj and Mr. Ramesh which occurred on June 14, 2010 and July 8, 2010 respectively. Dr Sathyaraj was killed in the secluded underground parking area of his apartment block and Mr. Ramesh was murdered in his penthouse apartment. In these two cases too, if anyone else had been around, the murderer would have pretended to be an acquaintance and aborted the mission, at least on that date. How much time did it take? Utmost two to three minutes – no dialogue, no contact, no wasted words, no clues.

Dr. Sathyaraj, during his college days, had been a frequent visitor at the residence of a family-friend, Mr. Gangadharan. In that year in which Ashwin and his father died, Sathyaraj became a constant presence and a source of support for the mother and daughter. One day, he abused that trust and raped the girl, aged 17. Her mother later told her to bear the pain; to treat it like a physical injury; to forget the incident. Nobody knew about this, too.

Mr. Ramesh was a vice-president and not a M.D. when a smart lady with a Ph.D. came to work for him. They built a great team – the technical expert who trained, guided and signed-off on technical work with nearly zero-tolerance for errors, and the non-technical manager in charge of administration, appraisal and kissing the right ass. Ramesh never abused her, not physically. It was easy for him to place the stumbling blocks, to destroy her role and career. When she had had enough, she resigned. Of course, nobody knew about this.

Petty misdemeanours, that’s what they committed, according to everyone. Any wrong is just a petty misdemeanour these days. It’s good to know, isn’t it, that if you commit a ‘misdemeanour’, the grim reaper could visit you anytime?

When the headmaster was murdered and my husband Shankar took the case, the situation at home got predictably bad. As the days went by without any developments, bad turned to worse. Then, when Sathyaraj was killed, I could see my family crumbling before me. The kids rarely came out of their rooms. They tried to avoid their parents. My husband and I hardly talked. He rarely came home. When he did, I could feel his rage pouring out of his silent menacing self like lava pouring out of a volcano ready to erupt. But, this time, he wouldn’t touch me in any way. At night, I could feel him sitting beside me, and in the darkness feel him looking at me like you would look at a pet you have to put down. He was readying a gulf to separate, it seemed. I heard him cry in the bathroom one night. The next day, Ramesh was murdered.

I could have left my handkerchief at the last scene or some other clue. But I think this note to my husband is more suitable. He must be wondering why I have not taken my own life. I do not know myself. Ironically, I do believe that one does not have the right to destroy life. I do not know whether he will destroy this letter but I do not think he will allow a monster to go free. How could I do this to him and our kids? The kids will manage and they are in his good hands. Then, him… this is what I can say truthfully, I wish I did not have to do this.

When I want to sleep, I try to tell myself that he, my loving husband, the smart intelligent Inspector Shankar somehow knew. I do not know how but I think he knows about Ashwin, my brother; about Srividya, the 17-year old girl and the destroyed Ph.D.

Anyway, this is our last communication. We will not talk or see each other ever again.

Will he curse me? Do you think I am smiling, being smug and trying to act wise? Do you think I am smiling?

Excerpt from the Interview of Inspector Shankar by Commisioner Prasad on July 9, 2010.
Prasad: When did you know that the killer is your wife Mrs. Srividya Shankar?
Shankar: Yesterday.
Prasad: Did you suspect her prior to that?
Shankar: No.
Prasad: In the nine weeks during which the three murders occurred, didn’t you have any reason to suspect your wife?
Shankar: No.
Prasad: Are you sure?
Shankar: Do you think I assisted her? Is that what you think of me?
Prasad: Shankar, wouldn’t you ask the same question if you are the interviewer?
Shankar: Yes, sir.
Prasad: So, let me repeat. During those nine weeks, and with hindsight, did you have any reason to suspect your wife?
Shankar: No, sir. From the material unearthed during the investigation, I found no clue that linked the murders with my wife, that is, till yesterday. This is also clear in the investigation reports I submitted daily to you. In addition, in the investigation team meetings in which you also participated, there was never any reason or clue for me or anyone to suspect Mrs. Srividya Shankar, my wife.

Excerpt from the Assessment Report Of Inspector Shankar by Commisioner Prasad
Based on the lengthy interview with Inspector Shankar and his assisting officers and, based on the thorough study of the investigation reports, there is no hard evidence to indicate that Inspector Shankar was aware about the murderous activities of his wife or had any grounds to suspect his wife, Mrs. Srividya Shankar.

I recommend that Inspector Sharma should resume work and that the temporary suspension be revoked.

As a personal and confidential remark, I would like to add that based on thirty years of my service and, based on my deep affection for Shankar and knowing that his past experience and work has been of the highest calibre, I find it impossible to believe that he did not suspect his wife.

Selection of Comments from another site

reader A: There seems to be a close resemblance with the Malayalam movie ‘Kariyila Kattu Pole’. But, there are differences too. Maybe, there is a case for going through this lesser work of yours where the focus seems to be elsewhere, hopefully somewhere. Please try to avoid piracy of any kind and to any extent.

reader B: You are a psycho, man, because yoU wasted MY time, loads of MY time, you nincompoop (even that is a compliment for you). This your attempt at pseudo-psychology? Stick to love, will you? By the way, have you forgotten about Suspense! God, if only blogs had peer-review before submission. BTW, did you forget to also say REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM (from Stephen King’s The Shining, remember) ??? Climb a pole and sit on it, man!

reader C: Hi, It’s me…can we forget our ‘misdemeanours’…fresh start??? Yours, xxx. What’s that they say in Morse? .. / .-.. --- ...- . / -.-- --- ..- (Di-dit, Di-dah-di-dit Dah-dah-dah Di-di-di-dah Dit, Dah-di-dah-dah Dah-dah-dah Di-di-dah).

reader D: you have definitely got it right…i mean, the power of a woman’s forehand swing…tell those wimps to stop going to the gym and to carry a kid or two…fyi, i defeated my hubby in arm-wrestling last night…whooopppeee…

reader E: I don’t get it. Did the husband kill the wife? I truly enjoyed reading the ending.

reader F: Is this fiction? If not, I would love to have you for supper. Kind regards, Hannibal Lecter

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