Ten Days in October
by Ashish Malpani GENRE: Fiction: Crime
'5 a.m. phone call broke Police Inspector Shivaji Chavan’s sleep informing him that local jeweler Anil Kokate, was found hanging from a tree on the banks of Pravara River in a small town of rural India. Although the signs point to an open and shut case of suicide, Chavan suspects foul play. While trying to find the missing pieces of the story he finds more hidden skeletons and comes across astonishing & cruel past of the victim. What begins as a routine investigation quickly turns darker, ruthless and pressing. Can Chavan handle the pressure of his superiors, local media and frightened masses? Can he navigate the system to reach the killer? Can he solve the moral dilemma when he comes face to face with the killer?
Inspector Shivaji Chavan then looked at Amol, the victim’s son, and said, “As soon as the doctor completes the examination, I will hand the body over to you. Please wait for few minutes more.” Then he opened the main door. The smell of rotted flesh mixed with Formaldehyde forced him to hold his breath. Gayakwad was standing inside holding a handkerchief on his nose. The postmortem room was well lit with a white tiled platform in the middle of the room for the examination. Dr. Sheikh was done with the autopsy. He had a couple of assistants with him. Seeing Chavan, Dr.Sheikh stopped what he was doing. He took off his gloves and washed his hands in the nearby sink. He grabbed his notepad and walked over to Chavan.
“I am almost done with the examination; I can quickly review the results with you and release the body to your custody.”
“Sure, go ahead,” said Chavan.
“Stitch it up,” Dr. Sheikh instructed the assistants and quickly flipped through his notes. “Sahib, in my opinion, the cause of death is asphyxia due to hanging. There is about four cm wide ligature marks running from the midline around the thyroid cartilage, symmetrically upward on both sides of the neck. The mark matches with the rope that was brought in with the body. I also think that it was a simple knot and running noose. The hyoid bone is fractured as well, which is not a surprise given the age of the victim? Microscopic examination of the thyroid gland and salivary gland shows focal interstitial hemorrhage which is consistent with antemortem nature of hanging. I won’t rule out suicide altogether, but I have a couple of other interesting things to report. There is light ligature mark around the wrists that would suggest that the wrists were tied together at some point. Also, all five fingers of the right hand are swollen, and the X-ray revealed that the fingers were broken. And my guess is that this injury was antemortem too. Also, it appears that there was some cloth stuffed in his mouth. I found some traces of fabric in his tract. Finally, looks like he had broken ribs a while back. ”
“How is that possible? How could someone break their fingers and then commit suicide?”
“That is something I can’t explain either,” Dr. Sheikh replied. “On the face of it, it does look like that force was applied to break the bones, so I don’t think Kokate did it himself. Maybe he got into a fight, and then something else triggered the suicide.”
“That is one possible explanation. Can you say for sure that this is a suicide and not homicide?”
“If you discount the broken bones, it does looks like a suicide case.”
Ashish Malpani is an Indian-American freelancer and blogger. Born in Sangamner, a small town in rural India, he spent much of his adult life in Austin, Texas. A technology product marketer by trade, Ashish earned his MSE from Purdue University and MBA from the University of Texas.
Ashish fell in love with reading and traveling at a young age. As a kid he had two dreams in life: to write a novel and to travel around the world. Thirty eight countries and counting, Ashish has explored various cultures and captured the world through the lens of his camera with his wife Samta and son Ayan.
Author website: www.ashishmalpani.com
As a kid, I always liked reading and making stories. I always dreamt about writing but somehow it never became a reality before. I strongly believe that every person you meet, every incident that happens around you leaves an impression on your mind. I often wonder that the people involved in the incidents were to speak to me, what will they say? What will be their stories? Some of the incidents we witness have a broader social impact and do touch our nerves. The people who are involved in such incidents definitely have gone through a lot and have a lot to share. Reporting of these incidents in popular media is purely based on coverage, reader appeal and sensationalism. We often read the report in the media, feel bad about it for few minutes and then move on with our lives. I fear that over the years, we have taken this as a new normal and let it desensitize us. As a writer, somewhere I feel that it is my responsibility to connect with readers and invoke thoughtful dialogue about such issues.
‘Ten Days in October’ is inspired by a real life incident that happened in the town in western India that I grew up in. Back then the incident had received lot of coverage in media but it was short lived and everyone moved on quickly. There is no interest to find out what happened to the victims and how they coped with tragedy. My thought process led me to believe that to survive the victims must have strong mantle and some goal to march towards. Then I started exploring what that goal may look like and how will they achieve it. Going down that path formed a story in my mind. It was so compelling that I could not shy away from bringing it to life.
But not having written anything in the genre before, presented lot of challenges. From ignorance about autopsy and forensics to no knowledge of police procedures in India, it looked like a mountain to climb. A long research cycle and reading background material followed and at one point I did think that it was going to be a dud. But my family (wife Samta and son Ayan) turned into my great supporters and inspired me to finish the novel.