Dasappen is a Gr 4 staff in my hospital..A psychotic on regular medicines..I have known him since the past 14yrs.
He is a constant headache for the matron.Cos of his tabs he can’t be put on night duty. He lectures to the supervisors about how things have to be done.. Taking x-rays.. Doing the lab tests.. Dressing the wounds.. Dasappen has a definite opinion
Everyone sniggers behind his back.. They make fun of his stocky barrel shaped hairy body.. The squinting glittering eyes.. His over enthusiasm in his work..
No body takes him seriously.. Cos every one knows that he is a psychotic on tabs..
No one dares to call him a psycho at his face..
“Lie down there you bitch.. Ill show you whether I am a psycho or not..” He once roared at a lady attendee who taunted him about his madness..
But I had a fondness for him. I couldn’t help acknowledging his sincerity to his work.. His loyalty to our institution.. That he ploughed ahead despite the odds and provided good education to his kids..
One boy and one girl..
How are your kids ..? I would asks him casually..
Dasappen would puff out his barrel shaped chest .. The squinting eyes would glitter proudly.. His voice would become still gruffer with emotion..
I was away on a training when Dasappen's son’s body was found dead in Vellayani Lake..
The boy had gone for an interview.. And had just disappeared into the thin air.. The body was found three days later..
Accident.. Suicide.. Homicide.. Rumors spread..
But Dasappen had a definite opinion..
“It is homicide.. My son knew swimming.. He was murdered and thrown into the lake..”
I decided to wait for the post mortem report..
In case of drowning, the lungs are examined in detail…
Presence of planktons.. tiny microorganisms found in water.. are also looked for.. Their presence within the far off blood vessels and within the lung tissue indicates that the deceased was alive and breathing and his blood circulation was functioning when he fell into the water.. The plankton went in through the water that was inhaled in.. Crossed the blood vessels and were transported into the lung tissue.. and other parts of the body..
It wouldn’t be seen in far off blood vesels and tissues if the person was dead while he fell into the water..
However suicide can’t be ruled out by this test..
The post mortem report came.. Planktons were present in the lung tissue and
“Maybe he slipped and fell..” I told Dasappan gently..
“No ma’m.. He was murdered..” Dasapen was dogmatic. The eyes glittered as he stared at me..
Maybe he had reasons to believe it..( I knew that he had some problems with his sister’s husband.. There had been physical fights..) Maybe it was the belief of a father who believed that he knew his son well.. Maybe it was the part of persecutory delusion of a psychotic..
Dasappen refused to believe anything else..
It is seven years after his son’s death now..
Dasappen still works hard.. With enthusiasm.. And self-righteousness.
He didn’t fall into deep depression.. He didn’t have a nervous breakdown..
I wondered if the medicines he took helped to blunt his pain..
I hoped so..
And he still believes.. That Ravikutten.. Blood of his blood.. Soul of his soul.. Was murdered and thrown into the Vellayani lake..
( to be continued)
ps.I'v included some additional info about planktons/diatoms in drowning
Drowning associated diatoms
Rajvinder Singh, Rajinder Singh, Mukesh Kumar Thakar
Department of Forensic Science, Punjabi University, Patiala-147002
Drowning is type of asphyxial death by submersion in a fluid, whether or not the fluid is aspirated into the lungs. This is considered as the cause of death if the death occurs within 24 hours of the insult and if survival is beyond 24 hours after the submersion and implies that recovery has occurred after the insult it is called near drowning.
Diatoms are among the well known water planktons. Every water body has its own diatom diversity. Diatoms are autotrophic in nature and different genera are found in both marine and fresh habitats. Diatoms belong to class Bacillariophyceae and further divided into two orders i.e. Centrals and Pennales on the basis of their symmetry. There are about 10,000 species and 174 genera of diatoms having different shapes and sizes ranging from 1 to 500μm. Diatoms are commonly found in water bodies like ponds, lakes, canals and rivers etc. but their concentration can be low or high in a particular water body, depending upon the season. With regard to another feature-the water depth limits to benthic distribution-there is no incontrovertible evidence for autotrophic growth of diatoms below about 100 m.
When drowning takes place, diatoms enter into the lung cavity of a person through the aspirated water and this water exerts a pressure on lung cavity and rupturing of the lung alveoli takes place. Through these entrances diatoms can enter into heart, liver, kidney, brain and bone marrow. As diameter and thickness of lung alveoli remains between very small therefore it is not impossible for all the diatoms to penetrate into the body organs through the lung cavity and diatoms which can penetrate through this capillary network are called “Drowning Associated Diatoms” (DAD).
Analysis of diatoms present in the lungs, liver, spleen, blood and bone marrow has for many years been undertaken as a confirmatory test in possible downing cases. However, the diatom test has been controversial since numerous cases of false negative and false positive results have been documented. Careful analysis of diatoms is a useful means of determining whether or not death occurred while the face was submerged in water. Before diagnosis of death by drowning an emphasis must be made on the morphological and morphometric studies of diatoms from the putative drowning medium because penetration of a diatom in lung capillaries depends upon its size and density Hurlimann et al. (2000).
In forensic investigation, while solving cases related with drowning, one can easily detect diatoms in the viscera of drowned body, if drowning is ante-mortem and diatoms are present in that putative drowning medium. The diagnosis of drowning by diatom analysis should be considered positive when number of diatoms is above a minimal established limit; 20 diatoms/ 100 µl of pellet (obtained from 10 gm of lung samples) and 50 diatoms from other organs (Ludes et al.1996) and further matching of diatoms from bone marrow and drowning site can strengthen this supportive evidence and a positive conclusion can be drawn whether person was living or not when drowned. In the present study a detail survey of the literature has been undertaken and an attempt has been made to provide some important information about the specific types of diatoms, which are commonly recovered from the various body organs of drowned persons.