TV reporters with their cameramen trouped in. Now they were fidgeting with their gear in the reception area of a swanky hospital. Soon, a controversial hero made an entry. In fact he was on bail, but rearrested on charges of rape and homicide. The police brought him in handcuffs, to identify a rape victim who died even as she was brought into the emergency area.
The victim’s body was in the corridor on its way to the morgue. It lay on a gurney wrapped in white bed sheet. The smell of the disinfectant was pungent and the corridors were aglow with concealed lighting.
I sank deeper into one of the bucket chairs meant for visitors. How I wished my cameraman joined me sooner. I wished the adjacent seat was not taken by anyone till he arrived. However, a vaguely familiar lady, apparently a relative of the victim, settled into it. Her glossy lips quivered over her Red Sari ends. She looked very much distressed, or it must have been the effect of the excessive air-conditioning.
Another woman with Short Crop of hair, apparently a reporter for a news channel, descended by the side of the woman in red sari, as though she smelled a rat. Even as her staff cameraman was just about catching up, she began a volley of questions aimed at Red Sari.
“What happened last night, ma’am, when it all happened at 10 in the night? Were you there on the scene with your hero-husband at the studios, or were you eating dinner at home?”
“Come on, lady! Stop pestering me like that. I am just his wife, you must know that I am a homemaker.” commanded Red Sari.
“Then, what made you to visit here?” Short Crop insisted.
“Well, I came here to see the victim’s body.” Mumbled Red Sari.
“Why? Was it not your husband who brought her to this state? His career is already ruined, with all those charges like human trafficking, and what would you say about this new charge of rape and murder?”
“Look Miss Reporter! Whatever you record I don’t care. I am more concerned about my sister who lost her life at so young age. You better show it to the world, what would happen to young girls running after a career in films. ”
“What do you mean, Ma’am…I am not getting you right... some disturbance there…er….Hello, Studio, please!”
Short Crop was making some hurried eye contacts with someone in the studio through the camera lens…. apparently she heard on her earpiece an instruction to cut short the interview on hand. Also she was distracted by the raucous sounds in the background made by the fans of the popular hero.
But Red sari went on undeterred. Now she was speaking at no one in particular. She was also unaware she was shut off from the shooting, But I heard her harangue right, “No one knew the victim was my sister--not even my husband. Even I never knew that she would be another victim for his cruel lust. In our childhood, my younger sister used to say that she would become a heroine one day. Pity, she deserted my old father, leaving him alone in the village. Our folks had long time ago disowned me and I lost touch with my family.” Flinched deeper in her seat, she started sobbing in fits and starts.
She continued speaking to the imaginary Short Crop who was no more there. “Now here, Ms. Reporter! You better knew I am fed up with my hero-husband. He ceased to be my hero. Now, I can’t go to my father even, since he died heartbroken only today". She started hitting her bangles against the back of the seat and injuring her wrists. A brief lull ensued. Thereafter she answered another imaginary question from Short Crop.
“Damn it! The glitter of the tinsel world devoured my entire family. My father must be turning in his grave cursing the twin traitors from the family.”
I wondered at my cameraman’s sense of time while missing the scoop at the right juncture. Short Crop who backed out, was now filling out her made-up story bringing out a different material for the popular consumption, and that too in the hero’s favor. Red Sari’s voice turned incoherent since that broke into a vernacular, known only to me as I hailed from her district. The camera soon aimed at the exit as the hero was being escorted out into the waiting police van. It seemed he did not recognize the face of the victim, or anyone thereabouts.
Sadly, I decided not to report the story for it would get a bad name to my district. May better sense prevail on young minds not to succumb to the old story of exploitation in the film business! May the young lady’s soul rest in peace!