Thursday, September 28, 2006

Desperate Hero..

The young man ran past the gates of our hospital, across the drive way and into the foyer. He looked around in panic and bolted into the X Ray unit.
His clothes were dusty. sweat and tears ran down the gaunt face. His teeth chattered. He smelled of filth, hunger and fear.

“Call the police..!!”

“They will kill me..!!”
He gasped, skulking towards the shadows of the dark room

The x-ray technician froze. He watched the boy as if in a trance.
"Call the police..!! Don’t allow them to take me away..!! "

He pleaded, his sunken eyes looking around wildly for a place to hide.

“They starved me for two days….”
“Please someone call the police….!!”
He pleaded at the small group of patients and staff who had gathered around..

The crowd watched in alarm and panic as four or five men rushed inside the room..


Realization dawned as they watched the brash tee shirts clinging to sweating, lean bodies.. Arrogant flashing eyes and colored hair.


One man caught hold of the boy and started to pull him..
“No.. no..” the boy fell down to his knees weeping..

I was on my way to the lab when I saw a big crowd in front of the x-ray unit.


Something was terribly wrong..

People had a stricken look.. They were whispering to one another..

I could hear wisps of conversations..

“Call the police..!”

“Must be trying to get loan money back..!”

“Call the police..!”

“We must lock the door..! A gruff voice was speaking feverishly.”.
That was when I noticed Dasappen shoving people apart.. Trying to close the door..

As the crowd parted I saw few mean men trying to pull a petrified looking boy who was shrieking something

My heart was beating fast..!!

“Yes..! We had to lock the door..!!”

Suddenly I felt a blunt hit on my back..

“Move.. move.. “A cold commanding voice ordered and I felt myself being shoved out of the way roughly..

He looked about seven feet tall ..had golden brown colored hair and wore a tomato red colored tee shirt.. he walked into the room..

My heart was galloping..!!

“No we shouldn’t allow it.. we had to call the police..!”

I ran to my office..and dialed 100..

I spoke rapidly..

“Ma’m we have already got the complaint.. Police is on the way.. The voice was crisp..”
I rushed back.. And watched the scene in horror..

Everything seemed to move in a slow motion..

A huge crowd had gathered.. The boy was pleading something as he was being pulled across the foyer.. Few people had joined in the fight and was pulling the boy back.. Some were talking excitedly into their cell phones..Dasappen was in the center. Hugging the boy from the back.. His face was buried in the boys back.. His body was bent as he strained to pull the boy

Suddenly the golden brown haired leader took out a knife and flashed it in front of him..
There was a collective gasp. The crowd parted.. Many people moved back..

“Where was the bloody police..?”

I couldn’t bear it.. The boy was being pulled ahead slowly.. Surely

The procession had reached the porch and was progressing along the drive way..

I ran behind the crowd....

They were taking him towards a Qualiz parked near the gate..

I could see Dasappen still clinging to the boy.. Oblivious to every thing around him. his face buried in the boys back.. he clung.. Obsessively.. Compulsively..
“Dasappen..! I wanted to shout.. Let go.. They will hurt you..”

There was a collective gasp once more as a police jeep swerved in through the drive way.. My heart danced as I saw police men jumping out..

The inspector roared something..

The men froze.. Their body language changed.. There seemed to pass some unspoken communication..

I was surprised.. The men didn’t try to run away.. They just stood there.. Docile..
The inspector spoke something to the boy and the men.. Handcuffs were placed on all of them including the boy..

All of them walked towards the jeep like trained Labradors..

The Goondas seemed to have some unwritten code of conduct. All of us watched in spellbinding silence as the police jeep drove way followed by the Qualiz..

Pandemonium broke out..!!.. Everyone started speaking excitedly..!

“Must be loan money..!”

“The Goondas were talking about money..!”

“What if the police had not come..”

“Doc are you hurt..?” Someone asked..

“Nothing..!” I giggled.. “I will be proud to tell my boys about being hit by a goonda !” I laughed..

Must be “ Pacha vikraman.”. Gautam commented his mouth full of the chapathy and chicken he was gulping down,. as I told about the tall leader with golden hair..
Taj sat and stared at me. his huge eyes shone with excitement.. Peeps listened silently..

Imagine..! Goondas in Mama’s hospital..! Thank god Dasappen was not hurt..! I exclaimed..!

Dasappen..? The psychotic whose son died..? Peeps looked curious..


I had forgotten about Ravikutten.. his death.. No wonder Dasappen had clung so adamantly to the boy..

Next morning the first thing I did was call Dasappen to my room..

“It was only because of you that the boy was saved.. Somewhere his parents will be thanking you .”I smiled at him warmly..

“Yes the boy was saved only cos of me..” Dasappen spoke in his usual gruff over confident style..

I smiled again..

“Bala is worried that they will hurt me ..”

“Don’t worry .. they wont remember you specifically.. .”.I smiled .. “And they are under poliuce custody na..?”


Dasappen continued to stand there..

I wondered if I should say something about Ravikutten.. But I refrained myself..

I smiled again..

Dasappen.. Continued to stare at me.. strangely.

I felt uncomfortable.. The glitter in his eyes unnerved me..

Was it his psychosis..?

Or was it cos his eyes were moist..? Was he thinking about his Ravikutten..?

I wished he would leave..

Yes I was feeling uncomfortable..

My eyes too were becoming moist..

Thursday, September 21, 2006


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
blood vessels

“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.

Monday, September 11, 2006


It was monsoon..

Dark angry clouds swarmed over the dull gray horizon.

The rain lashed down drenching the leaves.. soaking the ground…. puckering the surface of the lake with millions of ripples. Dipping the waterlillies..

The coconut palms swayed.. Their leaves surrendering to the cold, harsh wind and the incessant rain..

It was at about that the 'body' was found..

‘It’ lay among the reeds.. near the banks.. bloated.. skin soggy , blistered and broken in areas..

Dasappen shivered in the hostile biting wind , as molten heat rocked him in waves..

He couldn’t call ‘It’ Ravikutten..
His slim, smiling, earnest Ravikutten..

He couldn’t see ‘Its’ face..’It’ lay prone in the gray muddy water..

But the curly hair was familiar.. The striped polyester shirt and dark gray pants were familiar..

They had gone to the textile shop in the town to buy it two weeks back..

No the local tailor wouldn’t do. It had to be sharply stitched..

“Smart formal look is needed for the interview Acha.”

Ravikutten’s dark smooth cheeks had been flushed with excitement as he read the interview card. His dark eyes glowed earnestly..

Front office staff.. For a star hotel in Dubai..

‘Yes. Ravikutten will get the job.!.”

Bala had beamed at him as she lovingly pressed the shirt and pants once more.. Smoothing away imaginary creases.. The night before.

Ravikutten would be leaving for the interview.. In the first bus in the morning..

“Yes !”

Dasappen had nodded .. His heart almost bursting with pride..

‘They had made him a graduate hadn’t they..? And a diploma holder in hotel management and catering too..!’

The agent was asking for seventy-five thousand .. fifty now.. Twenty-five six months later. He would have to make final withdrawal from his PF.. But it would be worth it.. Ravikutten would look after them.. Ammu had to be married off.. But that could wait another two to three years.. she had just started her MA..

Yes Ravikutten would score..!!

His slim, , smart smiling earnest Ravikutten.. His first born.. His son.. Blood of his blood.. Soul of his soul..

The molten pain was rising high.. like crashing waves....Fiery.. Icycold..

Gripping.. Soaking.. Crushing and Blinding him..

Dasappen could hear himself howling.. Like an animal..

(to be continued)