The Almost-Great Escape

While interviewing Sajeev Sir for our issue’s Feature the Teacher, we asked him what the most memorable case he has ever encountered. Dr. Sajeev proceeded to recollect an incident that occurred during his PG days, which would make for a great novel and definitely, an amazing movie . So sit back, and be prepared for an exciting journey, which will leave an everlasting impression on you. ~ Authors.

As most stories start, this one starts off with a couple. They were a young wife and a not-so-young husband, newly married. They were on their way to a temple on his motorbike, where he was to drop her off and return. The next time we see this couple is in the hospital. The husband, as we shall christen him, met with an accident on his way back and is very seriously injured. He is in a state of total immobility, has lost his power of speech but is able to comprehend what is going on. He undergoes several procedures and is ordered complete bed rest under the supervision of the doctors in the hospital. He is shifted to a private room, and his mother arrives to take care of him. He was an only son, and she arrives to the hospital in a state of total confusion, and breaks down on learning her son’s plight. From the moment he came out from surgery, his mother stood vigil, relentlessly tending to his every need without a break for more than a week. His wife only comes to see him a little after he’s shifted into his private room, completely panicking at his state. But every time his wife comes, there is a noticeable change in the Husband’s demeanor. Bereft of motor functions and speech, he became very agitated and showed obvious signs of displeasure, like gritting his teeth and generally being angered by her presence.

Slowly the Husband starts getting better and the Doctors seem hopeful of his recovery. When the Wife and the Mother were intimated of this fact, the Wife persuaded the Mother of his well-being, playing on her desperate need for rest, and convinced her to go home so that she could play her part as his wife. She dutifully makes sure he is fed, for a Ryle’s tube is inserted and tends to his every need, just like his mother did. But the Husband progressively starts getting worse. The Doctors and staff are dumbfounded by his sudden, apparent deterioration. He shows no clinical features that indicate any complication, and all lab findings do not give any reason to substantiate his worsening health. The Mother too arrives, perplexed at her only son’s condition. And then suddenly one day, the Husband dies. Just like that, he’s no more.

Protocol dictates that since he was a victim of a Road-Traffic Accident, his death is deemed unnatural and hence, his remains are sent to post mortem. Hand-in-hand to the autopsy, the CBI(Central Bureau of Investigation) takes over this case, because the Mother strongly suspects some foul play behind her son’s death. The HOD of Dr. Sajeev’s department himself leads the autopsy.

Now, this is where everything happens. The story gets interesting. When they cut open his body, the first thing they notice is that he has pus in his brain. This accumulation of pus in the Husband’s brain was a factor that may have been a cause for the Husband’s death. They were about to end the autopsy by opening the abdominal viscera to check for anything else, although they weren’t looking for anything specific. As they slice into his body, the HOD’s face suddenly contorts in concentration for a few seconds. And he immediately declares, “This man was poisoned” with absolute certainty. Everyone else there was perplexed because there was nothing that they could observe that indicated the HOD’s proclamation. As they stood there, confused, the HOD explained to them that he had caught a whiff of a peculiar smell that surely indicates poisoning. It also indicates what was used to poison the dead man. The peculiarity of all this is that the particular odour scarcely lasts for a few seconds before it dissipates and it takes an extremely skilled Medical Examiner to detect. The HOD caught the very specific bitter almond odour for a second and therefore decided it was a poisoning because this smell is particularly associated with cyanide poisoning. This information was conveyed to the CBI who now rounded up all their suspects, which included the Mother and the Wife. After hours of rigorous questioning, the Wife finally broke down and admitted to murder. She then proceeds to tell them the elaborate story that actually took place.

Before their marriage, our Wife (not ours, but the Wife in the story) met someone in high school. She was a quiet, studious girl and he was the popular captain of the cricket team. Despite being polar opposites, sparks fly, and they fall in love. They both go strong through college and are hopelessly in love with each other. She finally musters enough courage to open up about him at home, hoping for a happy ending. But fate had something else in store for them. Her parents were completely against this relationship, forced her to sever all contact with the Boyfriend and black-mailed into marrying the Husband, all within a short span of time. But however, the heart wants what it wants. Just like the movie ‘Mouna Ragam’. But unlike that movie, this one does not have a happy ending.

She tries to explain to her Husband about her plight, but he wanted to dissolve his marriage, fearing the scrutiny that would ensue. On the day of the Husband’s so-called accident, she was actually taking him to the temple so that he could meet the Boyfriend, where they planned to convince the former to leave her. But that too failed, and he left her there and returned in anger, certain that she would come back to him. This is when everything went berserk. The Wife and the Boyfriend got into his car, and rammed it into the Husband’s bike, gravely injuring and leaving him in that state, believing he was dead. But as we would have it, the Husband miraculously remains alive and is taken to the hospital by a kindly stranger. The Wife, on hearing this, hopes he’ll die of complications but that too does not happen.  She arrives at the hospital panicking. On sight of her, the Husband is extremely angry but since he is unable to communicate this to anyone else, he grits his teeth and shows his annoyance. When she sees him get better, she gets even more scared that he will expose her for her crime. And so, she and her Boyfriend device a plan to get rid of him once and for all. She takes advantage of her mother-in-law’s sleepless nights, and pretends to take over and play dutiful wife. And she silently grinds cyanide pills and mixes it with the food he is given through the Ryle’s tube, in small doses. She does this to prevent any suspicion, taking care to ensure that he dies showing progressive decline in health. But then Karma had another plan. The pus in his brain was indicative of imminent death. So basically, if she had left him alone, the Husband would have died of his own accord, and she would have been free in an open world to pursue her relationship.

What we would like to focus on in this story is not the romance and spice we added to make it interesting for you, but the keen, astute skills of the HOD of Dr. Sajeev’s department. He was able to take notice of a sign that very few doctors actually can in real life, with such certainty that all further introspections clearly stated his very observation. His thorough knowledge of the subject, backed up by his experience and sheer common sense, led to the proper administration of justice. Also, remember that whatever you do, God is always keeping an eye on you.

Thank you for reading till this point. This is where we say, THE END. ~ Meow.

When asked to respond in one word or a phrase Dr Sajeev said:

PIMS: Humble

Family: Enjoyment

Marriage: Experiment

Early bird or Night owl? : 8pm to 5am sessions should tell you that.

Silk Smitha: Glamorous

Sweet or Spicy? : Spiiiiicy

Cartoons these days? : Most are Horrible

Published by PIMScope

PIMScope is a triannual magazine of Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, brought out by the PIMScope editors.

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