Hello, colleagues in the media, and just about anyone else who is interested in unravelling a juicy murder mystery. This is an opinion I would urge you to read.
In case I am murdered, I’d like to let you all know my sexual, reproductive, marital, financial, educational, professional history ASAP. This is important because unlike any other death, the murder of an upper middle-class woman is to be reported on very differently.
First, all reporters must forget whatever beat they usually write on, and put the crime reporter out of the way. Those minions can go cover the other smaller crimes, you know, like when a mother killed her handicapped son, or that family which died under mysterious circumstances. They can also cover a few riots and the aftermath, from towns in Uttar Pradesh, where the internet is as popular as, say, pucca toilets.
The ghost of Arushi Talwar-Hemraj (yes, there was another murder at the same time at the same home), case is now back. Sheena Bora, the victim, was a grown woman; yet, the script is same, and the script writers are journalists like me.
As editors, we are keeping our talons on the beat reporters and our eye on the TRP/Hit-meter (usually, the sale of newspapers no longer peaks and plunges on the basis of one big case).
The dead victim, and there will be some living ones when the fog lifts, is just incidental to the murder story. What is more important is her sexual history. She was pretty hot, and seemed to have had sex. And contraception failed her, so she had abortions – more than one, mind you. We ‘know’ that she was pregnant when killed. Heck, we seem to know as much about her reproductive history as her gynaecologist.
Even the police investigating the case is an ‘elite’ team – the normal, regular not-so-elite cops must have refused. How about the woman alleged to have murdered or conspired to kill her own daughter, or sister, or both, as we are told? Was she a victim of abuse, incest? That her step-father abused her has now come to light.
She, the accused, was glamorous, for sure. Her open Facebook album has supplied us all with mood photos of her, her husband and daughter in many cool locations.
Is that a dry martini she is sipping on? Wow, lovely shade of lipstick. How did she keep her skin so glowing and her hair so shiny?
What, these are not valid journalistic questions? They are. It is also important to know what she ate. A sandwich – Mumbai cops are good hosts, if nothing else.
Are we talking about the murder yet? Nope, that would be a real boring news story. Let’s stick to the glamour and sex. So glamorous that she lived a carefully scripted life and moved in high society, and none of the bright bulbs who air-kissed her smelled anything fishy.
Of course, Peter Mukerjea, husband of the murder suspect Indrani, her son Mikhail (introduced as brother), and Peter’s son and Sheena’s ‘alleged’ lover till death did them apart, Rahul (he has another mother and does not share any DNA with his step-sister/aunt; keep up people!) are yet to be scrutinized.
How much sex did they have, how many babies they may have produced, may not be asked, but what hopefully will be asked is why did these men not have the common sense to go to the cops when a woman from their family goes missing? People file reports of missing cats and dogs faster than this.
Maybe, the poor men are too ‘distressed’ and will ‘reveal’ all when they feel better. The cops are talking to them. The media is talking about them. The facts are stuck in between. Maybe they are just putty.
There will be a larger story emerging soon, perhaps one of financial bungling, of money laundering, of more connections, which will lead to many other names.
The investigations have begun. Many many journalists are on the job. The case has already been solved many times. The candlelit marches are missing yet, because the accused are actually one of us and not some of the unwashed masses. There are two others accused in this murder case. But then, they do not seem to have any glamour value to make a difference to the reportage.
And then, there may be a book, or even better, a movie.
Wonder who will play Indrani – she will get the maximum screen time. For sure.
Till then, enjoy the sexist verbal diarrhoea we are now calling prime time news. Good bye, Sheena Bora; not many knew you when you were alive. And even the ones who did, did not seem to care enough. But, thanks for the story.