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science, Uncategorized

Magnetism

Ability to attract is known as magnetism. Ferrous materials are known to be magnetic. Are humans magnetic?

Over the years humans are known to have displayed magnetic properties but they were quite uncommon. In the olden times, before the television and movie era, when human circuses were one of the entertainment options, such rarities were displayed to the watching public. People paid to gawk at them. Such human magnets were made to sit in cages with an assortment of spoons, nails and the like sticking to their bodies. It is also possible that the paying public were fibbed off by glueing the spoons and nails to the body of some poor fellow desperately in need of cash.

Many things have happened to people after taking the covid vaccination. Some unfortunate fellows with comorbidities didn’t benefit from the vaccination and they fell prey to the dreaded disease. Some had side effects, mostly mild but sometimes serious. While some had mild fever, body aches and headaches, some had to deal with blood clots.

But today I read that one person in India has turned magnetic after the vaccination and I was zapped.

How can someone turn magnetic after vaccination which is actually administered to repel something sinister?

So, the news channels are running a clip on loop where a man wearing a vest, stands with many spoons and coins sticking to his arms, chest and back.

Can this really happen? Well, watching the video one is tempted to believe. But is there another angle to it? Was his body magnetic before the vaccination, but he came to know only now? But he is a senior citizen, could have known it before. Is he a publicity hound? Doesn’t seem so…

So while the concerned authorities and doctors study his case to find out, a strange fear gnaws my mind. After all, my second vaccination is due in a few days…

 

Yatindra Tawde

book review

White as milk and rice – A review

Book title – WHITE AS MILK AND RICE

Author – Nidhi Dugar Kundalia
Publisher – Penguin Random House India

No. Of pages – 241

Frankly, when I went for this book, my expectations were different. I don’t know why but I had thought that the book will have stories from mythology of the various tribes of India.

But once I had read through the introduction by the author, I grasped that it was going to be something totally different from my initial expectations.

There are six stories but each story takes you to a different territory in the vast expanse of India, ranging from the hills of South India, the chambal ravines in the west, the forests of Central India and finally culminating in the North East.

You peek into the ordinary lives of some extraordinary tribals and the back stories of the protagonists and their tribes enrich your knowledge of many aspects of their history. Their daily struggle to keep their unique culture alive amidst the all encompassing march of modern life is what enriches the stories to the next level.

By the time you reach the end of the book, you know something more about the Halakkis, the Kanjars, the Kurumbas, the Marias, the Khasis and the Konyaks. And wonder whether they have lost their heritage or are we, the so-called modern denizens of this world, the real losers.

The author injects charm and pathos into each story.

A Common thread which runs through all stories is how the tribals take only that much from the forest, as is required for survival and don’t exploit it for greed.

I must thank the author, Nidhi Dugar Kundalia, for staying in their midst for a long time and documenting a vanishing way of life, weaving charming stories and enriching us, the lay readers.

Yatindra Tawde

 

humour

Videographically yours

In today’s time of constant exposure to the social media, the making of pre-wedding videos at most of the picnic spots around town is trending.

Whenever I visit a lake in our vicinity, I happen to encounter atleast one such photographer and his client couple. While I hope to see pristine nature at the lake, my senses are assaulted by these over-enthusiastic photographers. Okay, if they just click the photos and get the dirty deed done with and vamoose from the spot, it would still have been okay. But they want to assault the early morning walkers, joggers and pranayam enthusiasts with the most acrobatic pyrotechnics.

One such client couple had come dressed in their best Western wear, the girl in a flowing gown while the guy was in a suit. Now, since she had worn a flowing gown she had brought along her friend to hold and manage it. Mind you, this is the hardest job, for the gown has to be kept away from the morning job of some random dog, in addition to ensuring that the would-be bride doesn’t trip on its flowing folds. The would-be bride was also most conscious of her makeup, her dress and her appearance. Running her hand through her hair and adjusting her dress, she needed her friend’s continuous barrage of words of support and encouragement.

The guy in suit knew who was the center of attention and watched his would-be wife with a blank expression. 

The photographer, on the other hand, was enthusiasm personified. With the continuous contortions of his body to capture the best shots, I don’t think he would need to join a gym or do yoga to keep himself fit. Sometimes he went on his haunches while sometimes he lay flat on his stomach while holding the camera near his eyes.

Another trend is for would-be mothers to get their videos done. For such videos, various props are very important and the photographers use the most ridiculous ones. Baby clothes are one such. Then there are the toys, dolls,  etc. Once I saw a would-be mother displaying baby shoes near her face, which was tilted at angle.

So friends, those who are at that stage in life, what are your plans? Do share your thoughts.

Yatindra Tawde

memories, Sports

The Tall Little Master

The brisk walk to the crease, the floppy hat, the swinging of arms and we were all excited that a new test match was about to commence.  And happy that India had won the toss and elected to bat, awaiting another great innings from Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. Once the guard was taken, we were treated to that most balanced stance in world cricket. No extra movement, no nervous twitch, only a strong desire to enter the ‘Zone’ as fast as possible. Even the bat lift was bare minimal.

The fast bowlers he faced were tearaways, just the sight of them running in to bowl used to put the fear of God in the best batsmen. Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Craft, Malcolm Marshall of the West Indies, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson of Australia, Bob Willis of England, Richard Hadlee of New Zealand,  Imran Khan of Pakistan, such was the undoubted pedigree of those days. And more often than not, Gavaskar trumped them all.

Here he was, ready to put them to test, a test of their patience,  a test of their skills. Ball after ball was met with a straight bat, waiting for them to falter in line and length, waiting for them to tire out and then the full range of elegant strokes were unfurled. If the forward defensive stroke was serene then the cover drive was sheer poetry in motion. And those straight drives, with the head perfectly still; one would be ready to go to any part of the world to enjoy watching.

He was the world record holder for the most number of centuries in test cricket but some of them made a lasting impression. He had announced his arrival on the world cricket scene like a Boss against the mighty West Indies with 3 centuries and a double, so much so that a calypso song was written on his ability to go on and on. Or rather, the inability of the West Indian bowlers to get him out. The innings of 221, batting in the Fourth innings against England brought India tantalizingly close to a memorable victory which  was not to be. It continues to be my personal favourite. The 236 not out against West Indies in India was memorable,  being his record breaking 30th century when he broke the long standing record of the great Don Bradman. The 127 vs Pakistan in Pakistan was in a lost cause as the other Indian batsmen were no match to the guiles of Imran Khan and Sarfaraz Nawaz. And finally, the almost century, an innings of 96 under the most challenging conditions in Bangalore vs Pakistan in his last test match. He retired while still at the top of his game.

Though his ODI career pales in comparison to his Test career, he still had his moments under the sun. From the tortoise paced innings of 36 not out he played in a world cup match to the pinnacle, when he led India  to triumph in the World series of cricket in 1985 interspersed with a World Cup victory under Kapil Dev in 1983, he saw the highs and lows of Indian ODI history.

He was without a century at the Lord’s during his Test career, but he made amends when he played an innings of 188 in the MCC Bicentennial match at Lord’s in 1987, while playing for Rest of the World eleven after his retirement.

Gavaskar inspired a sense of confidence in the Indian test cricket team that they could face the best opposition on equal terms.

Yatindra Tawde

book review, humour

Vellagiri on FB – A book review

Book title – Vellagiri on FB

Author – Krishnan Seshan Iyer
Publisher – StoryMirror Infotech Pvt. LTD.
No. Of pages – 150

‘Expect the unexpected’ when you pick up this book because it is unlike any other. There are no short stories, it is not a novel nor is it a serious commentary. Instead it’s ‘Vellagiri’.

Now what is ‘Vellagiri’ someone may ask. It is a totally Mumbai lingo which the author has used so innovatively in his book title. ‘Vella’ comes from ‘Velle’ which is used for people wasting time, doing nothing. So, ‘Vellagiri’ is a tongue in cheek reference to the author sharing his treasure trove of quotable quotes on FB to the benefit of his immense friend circle. And now we, the mango people, can equally enjoy the fun.

Now, why do I say it is a treasure trove of quotable quotes? Well, for that, open this book and start reading.

Whoever said only famous personalities are capable of quotable quotes have not met the author, Krishnan Seshan Iyer. His quotes arise from his intrinsic scathing sense of humour and a sharp mind honed over the years in the Corporate law field. He is blessed with an ability to critique and capable of giving ‘Jor ka jhatka, dheere se…’ and sometimes not so ‘dheere se’ at all. You may not necessarily agree with him, but please do enjoy the sarcastic humour while you are at it.

And for those who cannot do without FB, here’s a quotable quote from the book, ‘I just realized that MZ is my wife – keeps reminding me of things I said a few years back!’

So guys and gals, go for this book. Let me assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

The Mask

Why the hullabaloo over a mask, someone may ask. Well, since it has become such an intrinsic part of our lives there’s no option.

Thus, mask manufacturing is an industry in itself. Like every product manufacturing industry it is very important to know the user or consumer profile to design masks.

I also tried to study the user profile and here are my findings –

The warrior – he/she is totally committed to avoid spreading the virus and protecting himself from the virus. He is a warrior because he fights against the virus by following the proper precautions. He is also a warrior because he will not think twice before disciplining others who fall short in following the precautions. He will shout or argue against such irresponsible people whose masks have slipped a bit. He will point to the lowered mask with his finger and with the slightest of upward movement, ask them to place it properly on there nose.

Flaring nostrils – he tries to follow the precautions but his mask keeps slipping from his nose while just managing to maintain its position on his mouth. He has not yet got used to having his nose covered due to suffocation.

Chin music – he is in majority and many times his mask gets mistaken for facial fuzz (I am talking only about ‘he’ here). He is committed to protecting his chin from the viruses which might find a way into his body through the skin pores. His nose and mouth are relatively virus resistant, or that’s the impression he creates.

Neckers – as you must have deduced by this time, the consumers are getting labelled as per the lowering position of the mask. Thus he/she flaunts the mask on the neck while pulling forward their ears. So they appear like ear-pulled rabbits. These are the next in majority.

Hookers – don’t misunderstand, these are the people whose masks hang precariously from one of their ears which act like hooks. These hookers increase the blood pressure of the warriors precariously.

Nudists – these will flaunt their nostrils and lips in full public view most shamelessly without a care in the world.

Jokers – they will wear the most outrageous masks, sometimes shaped like animal heads and sometimes painted with cartoon lips bringing a smile to spectator lips which are themselves hidden behind masks.

Fashionistas – these are mostly the better half kind though not necessarily. The masks always match their clothes and such masks are most innovatively designed ranging from saree type masks in Paithani, Kanjeevaram, et all to diamond encrusted masks for the elites. To cater to such connoisseurs of masks, entire showrooms have come up in almost all towns.

So Guys and Gals, which consumer profile do you belong to?

Yatindra Tawde

Fiction, horror

The Rag doll

First shared on #ArtoonsInn

Atmaram Nana was alone at home. Having lost his wife, Supriya, two years back, he stayed with his son’s family at their house in the town of Kankavli, in the Kokan area of Maharashtra.

Atmaram was very proud that he had been able to buy this house from the original owners, the Nene’s when he was quite young. His son Raghuram, Raghuram’s wife, Revati and their 6-year-old son, Rahul had gone to Mumbai to attend the wedding of one of their relatives from Revati’s side.

Atmaram Nana was quite sprightly even at the age of 72. He had kept himself in good health by gardening every day, in their small little garden, his darling cat, Mani, following him everywhere.

Today, Atmaram was feeling quite lonely. On top of that, he had not been able to sleep properly. The creaking sounds from the attic had been quite loud during the night and Atmaram blamed it on the withering timber.

He decided to investigate. Anything to pass the time. As he made his way up, he put on a cloth mask on his nose, to protect himself from the dust and cobwebs.

On reaching the top, he crinkled his eyes to see better in the darkness. Then he reached for the light switch and put on the light.

Like most of the households in the town, the attic was used as a storage place for drums of rice and wheat. And where there is food, rats are bound to follow. This is where Mani made herself useful.

Crouching to avoid hitting his head against the low ceiling, Atmaram made his way across the attic, his footsteps causing swirls of dust to rise and then settle back on the attic floor. Most of the floor was occupied by various household items like a broken chair, Rahul’s childhood schoolbag, his broken toys, old utensils and the like, which ideally should have been disposed of to some scrap dealer.

Suddenly Mani screamed, “Meowww…” and something swung down from the ceiling, hit Atmaram in the face, making him lose his balance and fall. Fortunately, not much harm was done except for soiling of his clothes.

Looking up to see what had hit him in his face, he saw a rag doll, it’s head held to its body by a few threads, hanging upside down from the ceiling. Perhaps belonging to Rahul he thought; though he could not remember anyone gifting or buying a doll for Rahul. Cursing Raghuram for placing the doll on the ceiling, he espied a tin trunk in the corner where he had fallen.

Like his cat, Atmaram was overcome with curiosity. What would this trunk carry? What memories will it hold? And he had time to kill.

He saw a lock on the trunk. His memory scanned through the recesses of his mind, but couldn’t remember whether he had the key for it or not. So he took the next available option, reached for the spade lying in another corner of the attic and hammered on the lock. In a few strokes, it gave way.

All this while, Mani was doing a big din with her meowing, Atmaram couldn’t fathom why.

As he prised open the trunk, Mani fell silent. In fact, she jumped inside the trunk and started her sniffing routine. Atmaram gently picked her up and put her down outside.

Inside was his old camera! And some photo albums. For the next few minutes, he got lost in his past, for the photo albums held many memories, especially of his wife, Supriya and their child, Raghuram.

Raghuram and his family were back from Mumbai the next day, a Sunday morning. Once they had settled down Atmaram placed the camera on the table. Rahul was sitting on his lap.“Wow! Nana, that’s your favourite camera. Where was it all these days?” exclaimed Raghuram with surprise.

Like a person who has been gifted a new smartphone when he least expected it, Atmaram’s eyes were twinkling.

“You know, it still has a film in it, I think it must be half used. Oh, how I loved this camera. It is a Rolleiflex! It had been gifted to me by my uncle, Sakharam kaka. I understand he bought it in Mumbai….no, Bombay, in those olden days” the words rolled off Atmaram’s tongue in his excitement.

Raghuram was happy to see his father so happy. He had not seen him so enthusiastic and talkative for a long time.

“But why did you suddenly stop using this camera? I faintly remember you using it when I was but a child”

“I don’t know. Actually, I don’t remember it. Why did I stop using?”Atmaram tried to recall but in vain. All the while his fingers were busy in re-familiarising themselves with the various buttons and knobs of the camera.

As he pressed a knob, the lens side slid open. With shivering fingers, Atmaram prised open the side and the lens protruded out, sliding on the bed so formed. This was the zoom-in zoom-out feature of the camera.

With child-like excitement, he took the camera near his face to look into the viewfinder. He pointed the camera at Raghuram, who was busy giving a false smile. The viewfinder was a little yellowed now but he saw something hanging from the ceiling in the background, where Raghuram was standing.

All this while, Mani was making a cacophony, looking at Nana.

But when he put aside the camera to see what it was behind Raghuram…there was nothing. Again he tried to click his son’s photo but the button would not budge. And the apparition remained in the frame, though he could not pinpoint what it was. Perhaps a spec of dust?

“I think that’s why I stopped using the camera. It’s not working. And who will repair it in a small town like Kankavli?”

“No worries Nana. So what if it’s not working now. We are the proud owners of an antique camera like Rolleiflex. And let’s develop the film inside. At least we will be able to re-live some old memories”, so saying Raghuram took the camera from his father to retrieve the film.

However, he was not able to do so. “Call that photographer, Aniket. He should be able to retrieve” advised Atmaram.

“I will do one thing. I will take the camera tomorrow while going to the office and drop it off with Aniket. In evening, I will get it home with the developed film”.

The next day Raghuram came home in the evening with the camera and the developed prints.As soon a Raghuram entered, Mani became agitated. The hair on its body stood on end; she arched her back and bounded off, out of the house.

But Raghuram hardly registered it, he was eager to show the photos to his father. In his haste to come home, he had not yet seen the prints and wanted to observe his father’s reactions to the old photos, which had not yet been seen by anyone.

There were total of 10 photos. Nana was so happy to see his young wife, Supriya smiling into the camera. In some, she was alone, while in some she was carrying the child, Raghuram.Those were the days! Reminisced Nana fondly. Raghuram was watching the varied emotions fleeting across Nana’s face.

The last few photos were from this very house. It seemed to be someone’s birthday.Then Nana remembered. It was Raghuram’s 5th or 6th birthday. It was the first birthday to be celebrated in this house.

Nana remembered; he had bought the house from the Nene’s. He had been lucky. The Nene’s had sold it off to him in haste and at less than the market rate of that time, and Nana had been so happy about this unexpected windfall. Before shifting to Kankavli, Nana had been staying in the interiors of Malvan and had made enough money from his fisheries business.

After selling it off to him, the Nene’s had left Kankavli for good.The eighth, ninth and the last photo caught Nana’s attention. For standing behind a posing Raghuram, was a girl who appeared to be slightly older than the child Raghuram.Nana did not recall any such girl visiting their house. But it could be the failing memory of an old man. She must have been someone from their neighbourhood.

However, Raghuram who had been silently watching the photos and his father’s reactions to them did a double take on seeing the girl.

He plucked out the photos from his old man’s hands and stared intently.“I remember this girl Nana. She used to come to my room very often to play with me. And I remember, she had this same rag doll, with its head hanging by some threads” smiled Raghuram, as he pointed out the rag doll in the photograph.

Suddenly Nana’s throat felt parched. “Revati, bring me some water”, he felt goosebumps on his hands, as he suddenly remembered the rag doll which had swung from the ceiling in the attic and hit him on his face.

With shivering hands, he reached for the box of medicines lying nearby and took out his hypertension medication. He gulped the tablet with the water offered by Revati.

“But Raghuram. I never saw any such girl entering our house, at least not when I was at home” exclaimed a puzzled Nana.

“Yes, Aai also said the same thing to me. In fact, she used to say that I talk to myself like a madman. She felt that I was play acting. But here is that girl!”

For some moments both, father and son stared at each other, transfixed by what Raghuram had just said.

Then Nana grabbed Raghuram’s hand, “Take me to the attic. I want to show you something”.

Raghuram supported his father, as both of them went towards the attic.“Revati, please prepare for dinner. We are coming back in a few minutes”

Reaching the top, Raghuram put on the lights. Both of them entered inside.

“That day, I entered the attic and was trying to see what all is kept here since I had come up after many months. And, while walking in this very corner, see there…”, and pointed upwards towards the ceiling.

It was empty!

Raghuram looked at his father with a puzzled look.“But…but, it was here only. Where is it gone?” Nana got very agitated.“What, Nana? What did you see?” Raghuram was now losing his patience with his old man.

“Raghuram I saw the same rag doll! The same one with its head hanging by a few threads. But where is it now? I did not remove it. Has it fallen somewhere”, so saying Nana started searching on the dust-laden floor? But it was nowhere to be seen.

“Leave it, Nana. Why search for a useless doll. I am hungry. Let’s go for dinner”

“Ok, let’s go. But it’s surprising, isn’t it? Perhaps Mani….Mani carried it away?” Nana was still puzzled by the mysterious disappearance.

After putting off the attic light and locking it, both of them descended below.

As they passed a room, they heard Rahul talking to someone. “I have no one to play. Will you come often? Shall we play hide and seek?”

Eager to see whom Rahul was talking to, Raghuram entered the room, followed by his father.

“Won’t you introduce us to your new friend, Rahul. Who are you playing with?” asked Raghuram.

“Later Baba. She is hiding now”.

Smiling at Rahul, amused with his play-acting, both turned to leave; there in the corner where Rahul was staring, was the same rag doll…with its head attached to its body by a few threads!

Both father and son stood dumbstruck as they saw Mani in the window, hissing in the same direction, where the doll lay!Oh! What entity had the camera let loose?

The Nene’s; or rather the wife, now stay in far-off Kolhapur. The mother still feels extreme remorse at sacrificing her daughter in her mad quest for a son, which remained unfulfilled.

Her husband, Shripatrao Nene had a horrific accident during their journey from Kankavli to Kolhapur when the bus in which they were travelling passed very near to some trees, and one of the branches got caught in the window in front of him, causing a whiplash action decapitating his head, but held from falling off, by a few muscles. Like a rag doll!

book review

A Book review : Tea with a drop of honey

Book title : Tea with a drop of honey by The Hive

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

Tea with a drop of honey is an anthology of short stories by 28 different authors so you can be assured about the variety on offer. As is the wont for The Hive, this anthology gets a smashing foreword by Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Founder & CEO, Women’s Web.

The anthology opens with a beautiful love story, Not so Parsi Love, a story of love overcoming the religious divide.

Coming to my most favourite story in this anthology, The Heimlich Manoeuvre, I loved how the author has woven a humorous situation around the national lockdown.

Another story which stayed with me is My Big Fat Punjabi Divorce, a tale of a Punjabi family putting aside their petty differences and supporting their daughter/sister. I wouldn’t want to reveal more, do read the story…

To Sculpt a dream is a story which took me back in history and the setting is magical, with a profound message hidden in it.

  Cup of Tea for the Misfit Two beautifully weaves a fairy tale-like love story around the title of the book and was entertaining.

Much Ado about nothing is an audacious and hilarious prequel to a very famous love story,by the author and she succeeds in entertaining the readers.

Raz’on de Ser is a surefire tearjerker of a love story which tugs at the heartstrings.

Table number 9 is as philosophical as they come, with some great quotes. 

The Murphy Conundrum surprised me with a mixture of genres and leaves you with a feel good feeling at the end.

The other stories are entertaining too and you must read Tea with a drop of honey to know still more hidden gems.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Marriages or…mirages

First posted on #ArtoonsInn

The enticing aroma of coffee wafted across CCD, as l lost myself in the dreamy eyes of my wife, Priya. The hint of a smile curling her face was too alluring as i reached for her soft palms to take them in mine. 

Just then our order arrived and we untangled our hands in a hurry. As i  reached for the egg wrap, Priya rapped me on my knuckles. She picked up the egg wrap and lovingly extended her hand towards my mouth. Closing my eyes, I elongated my neck, imagining the egg melting in my mouth when…

“What are you doing, Rohit? Pay attention! I am already late for the office. Rotate the chapaati properly on the tava. It should nicely fill up with air, otherwise it will harden by lunch time”, she admonished.

As usual, I was day dreaming, mistaking a chappati being transferred on to the skillet, with an egg wrap being deposited into my mouth. And as usual the bai making the morning chappatis had taken a ‘sick’ leave leaving us with no other option. 

It was a nice and fluffy bed with soft pillows filled with feathers. A giggling, bubbling Priya started a pillow fight with me. She picked up the soft pillow and like a lithe shot putter, flung it at me…I grabbed at it and promptly deposited my shirt…yes, my shirt into the washing tub. 

Was I caught day dreaming again? “Rohit! I think there are 12 clothes. Take a spoonful of washing powder, it should be enough.”

“Hoy, Maharani!”, I said in jest. In reply, she threw another shirt at me to dip in the frothing tub.

Yes, i am sure you must have gathered by now that I love helping my wife in domestic duties. Or rather, the options have run out.

It wasn’t always so. 

When I was but a child, watching the weekly movie at the neighbour’s, I was enamoured by the love life of a film hero, who broke into a boisterous song or two, on spotting the cycle riding, shyly smiling heroine, always accompanied by a gaggle of giggling friends.

When they managed to get rid of those irritating friends, they ended up in a flower garden, dancing and running around umpteenth trees. I could never understand how two neighbouring flowers managed to caress each other whenever the hero,with a silly smile pasted on his face, got anywhere near the heroine.

After facing many childish obstacles, when they finally pranced hand in hand towards the sunset, the child in me was flushed with joy. That night, I used to dream of myself in the hero’s shoes. 

But the lie was exposed, and how. After the initial passionate flush of married life, I finally understood that a marriage is built from the building blocks of daily chores and mutual understanding to achieve those necessary tasks to keep the marriage engine running.

There! I have spoilt the romantic notions of a few unmarried individuals.

Fiction, Mystery

A court case… fiction

First shared on #ArtoonsInn

It was time. Soon the courtroom clerk would come to me, open my arms with a creak, which has developed over a period of time, and withdraw the required documents from my belly.

From the time, many years back, when I was brought here fresh from the Godrej factory, I have hardly moved from the corner. But this corner offers me a vantage point and an uninterrupted view of the entire shenanigans which go on, inside this spacious though dark room, in the name of justice. So what if my legs are wobbly over a period of time.

Slowly people started filing in. The case had been in the news once again since the last few months, and not without reason.

Mr. Sinha, the state prosecutor started, “Mr. Prakhar Singh stands accused of murdering his wife, the late Mrs. Sheeladevi, 17 years back and Mr. Salil Singh, his son is the sole witness to the vile murder.”

“I would now like to call, Mr. Salil Singh to the witness box.”, Mr. Sinha continued.

The judge, Mr. Harbhajan Singh granted him permission.

“Mr. Salil Singh, you have accused your biological father of the grimmest crime. What do you have to say?”, queried the state prosecutor.

I could see, all eyes in the courtroom following the young Mr. Salil, as he stared at his father for a long time.

Then turning towards the judge, he said, “Your honour, my father is a murderer. He murdered my mother as she was planning to leave him, tired of his continuous beatings. She had made all arrangements, but…”

“Objection, Your Honour.”, Mr. Shivdasani, the defence lawyer interrupted. Though small in stature, his hawk-like features and the baritone granted gravitas to his personality. Even the Judge was in awe of this cunning man.

“This young man is accusing my client without any proof. He has already grabbed the ancestral property from his father with the help of some unscrupulous relatives, but it is not enough. He now wants to totally destroy my clients name, nay, finish him off totally. if you grant permission, I would like to cross examine him”

“Objection granted, please proceed.”, the Judge acquiesced.

“Mr. Salil, you accuse your father of the most heinious crime, the murder of your mother, Mrs. Sheeladevi who disappeared 17 years back. Did you not yourself say that she was planning to leave him, due to the alleged continuous beatings by your father?”, said the defence lawyer, as he moved towards the witness box.

“Mr. Salil, may I ask you your age.”

“I am 20 years old, Sir.”, replied Salil.

“Please note, Sir”, Mr. Shivdasani addressed the judge.

“20 years old. Which means, you were just 3 years old when this occurred. Mr. Sheeladevi abandoned you, her only child, due to some alleged beatings which were never proved. For all you know, she must be in the US of A, enjoying herself, married to some American. And your father took care of you and raised you till you connived with your mother’s brother to grab the property and drove out your father.”

A gasp went round the court, as people started talking amongst themselves. Even I was confused; who was speaking the truth and who was lying. But Mr. Salil himself looked at peace with himself.

“Sir, I am not accusing my father now, after all these years. When I was a three year old boy I had said, ‘Baba thho…thho maa’, but I couldn’t do anything else at that time…”

As Salil said this, I was transported to the past, in these very premises, when a small boy was crying and saying, “Thho…thho, Baba thho…thho maa’, but nothing could be proved.

Mrs. Sheeladevi’s disappearence was a much talked about subject that time. Her brother, Ramniranjan, had accused Mr. Prakhar Singh of killing his sister. His accusations were based on the complaints of regular beatings from his sister and of course, the accusation by Salil.

Prakhar Singh maintained that she had simply left the house and disappeared.

Her empty purse had been found in the garbage bin outside their house, empty. Their car had been found in the city airport parking lot. But after a long trial, with Mrs. Sheeladevi still missing, the case went unsolved and was closed due to lack of evidence.

Suddenly a hand entered my belly and I was brought to the present.

“When I was a three year old boy, I had cried ‘Baba shot maa’ but I couldn’t do anything else. But there is a new development due to which I am now determined to see the harshest punishment for this man, I regret he is my biological father”, Salil said, his eyes watering up.

“Cut out the emotional blackmail, Mr. Salil. Whatever it is, place the facts before the court, don’t waste everyone’s time.”, the defence lawyer exclaimed.

“6 months back, I decided to renovate the ancestral home. After finishing the interiors, I started the re-construction of the swimming pool. It was emptied out, the tiling was removed, the digging started and…and…”, and Salil went silent.

“My Lord, the accuser is now certainly wasting our precious time. Mr. Salil, why are you bent on taking us through this convoluted construction process. Please come to the point”, Mr. Shivdasani thundered.

“And I found human remains.” A hush descended on the room. Suddenly all went quiet. I could see sweat running down the temples of Mr. Prakhar.

“I called my uncle and told him, ‘Mama, I think I might have found my mom.’

A flustered defence lawyer was combative, “Isn’t it your ancestral property? Isn’t your clan one of the martial clans of India? The human remains could have been any of the past enemies of your clan. We are not here to try your long dead ancestors, are we?”

“Objection, your honour.” Now it was the turn of the State Prosecutor.

“My learned friend is not letting my client speak. He is interrupting at an important juncture.” Mr. Sinha, who had been an observer for quite a while, was now suddenly active.

“I would now like to cross examine Dr. Rebello.”

I couldn’t understand the role of a Doctor or his significance to the case at hand. All the documents held in my belly did not add anything of value to my thinking. Neither my presence in the court for such a huge period of time has given me any inkling of how a lawyer’s mind works.

So here I was, just an observer to the proceedings. Just like so many others who were not so handicapped.

Dr. Rebello, though an old person with shaking hands, seemed jovial. When prompted for his name, he replied, “The name is Rebello, Julio Rebello”. Perhaps a fan of Bond, James Bond.

“And what is your area of expertise, Doctor?”, asked the state prosecutor.

“A Forensic Pathologist and Anthropologist. A Forensic Pathologist is one who studies the dead and the reasons they die. While a Forensic Anthropologist is one who works with skeletons and decomposed human remains and analyses the remains to get information about the victim and the cause death…”, the Doctor would have gone on and on, but was rudely interrupted by Mr. Shivdasani.

“I object, your honour. With all due respect, the honourable state prosecutor is doing everything to delay proceedings by bringing in witnesses who ramble on without reaching any conclusion”, he thundered.

“Objection overruled!”, for once the Judge overcame his admiration of the defence lawyer and asked the public prosecutor to continue.

“Doctor, please stick to the questions being asked and please reply to the point. We have spent enough time in this profession and know the difference between a Forensic Pathologist and an Anthropologist. So what do you have to say about the skeleton found in the property of Mr. Salil and which was brought to you by the Police?”, asked the State Prosecutor.

This time the Doctor did not waste any time and answered, “The skeleton was of a female who died in her young age, about 25-30 years old, she had already given birth before she died, she had been shot through her head and all this had occurred between 15-20 years back.” Everyone sat back as they processed this information given at breakneck speed.

“Whoa, whoa, Doctor you went too fast this time. I agree all these details can be determined by your fraternity but that she had already given birth before her death…I mean, do you take us to be fools”, who else, Mr. Shivdasani questioned.

His booming baritone did not have any effect on the Doctor who replied with a straight face, “You have put me in a quandary. If I agree with you, I will be put in jail for contempt of court, but if I disagree, I would be committing perjury.”

The court erupted in laughter at this quip from the Doctor. “Order, Order!”, I saw the judge indulge in his favourite dialogue and saw him hammering the gavel. Oh, how I envy Mr. Gavel, who is much more actively involved in the court proceedings!

The good Doctor then proceeded to enlighten, “When a woman gives birth, her pelvis is dilated. And this is how I deduced that the skeleton was of a woman who had given birth before she had been murdered.”

“Ok, this is all very well, but how does this prove that the skeleton was of Mrs. Sheeladevi? The court accepts nothing but proof to convict someone”, the defence lawyer was still defiant. For once, I agreed with the cunning lawyer.

“Yes, you are right. I cannot say whether it was the skeleton of Mrs. Sheeladevi or not”, the Doctor went silent, for once.

“Don’t worry, Sir. My next witness is the Forensic scientist, Dr. Paneerselvam.” The State Prosecutor was now in full flow.

I was now totally immersed in this case.

“Dr. Paneerselvam! What have you deduced on this case”, the prosecutor asked.

“Sir, I extracted the DNA from the tooth of the skeleton. I processed it and I took a comparative DNA sample from Mr. Salil here. There was a hundred percent match.”

“That’s it, My Lord. That conclusively proves that the accused, Mr. Prakhar Singh is guilty of murdering his wife, the mother of his son. Her only crime was to think of leaving him, of escaping his daily beatings and think of building a new life for herself. He deserves the strictest punishment, he should be hanged until death.” So saying, the State Prosecutor occupied his seat.

Happy that now justice will be served, I was keenly observing the judge, when that man, Mr. Shivdasani thundered, “Ok, it seems it is certainly proved that Mrs. Sheeladevi was murdered, but it doesn’t at all prove that my client, Mr. Prakhar did it. Where is the proof and the court accepts only proof before convicting any accused.”

Considering Mr. Shivdasani’s reputation, I was ready for this legal battle to drag on for days, when, “It’s alright, Mr. Shivdasani. You have fought well but I am now tired.”

Trying to understand who was talking, I saw Mr. Prakhar Singh getting up.

“Please come into the box, Mr. Prakhar.”

“Yes, it is true that I killed her. Yes, I did it in a fit of rage. I loved her, I wanted to possess her but she…she wanted to leave. And she never told me. When I came to know, I confronted her but she was adamant. I lost my cool, I shot her in front of Salil…I am sorry, Salil.”

That day, I was convinced, ‘Sins can be buried away but can never be forgotten’.

***

Authors note –

  1. Inspired from real incident.
  2. No laws referred
  3. Court functioning mostly sourced from Bollywood movies.
  4. Few legal terms Googled.
  5. Doctor’s joke googled.
  6. Written from the point of view of a cupboard, always seen in the background in any filmy court