Cover photo of 'Unbroken' by Indrani Mukerjea. (Photo by arrangement)
On September 20, 2015, I found out from the news that had slipped through scrutiny that the case has been moved to the CBI. Gunjan confirmed this when we met that week.
While I was in police custody, the Khar cops had made an announcement that they had excavated a body. There was a big story about how I was a greedy woman who committed this murder; that, coupled with moral objections I had about my daughter’s relationship, led me to commit the crime. My chargesheet was laughable. I allegedly killed Sheena because she was dating Peter’s younger son, Rahul. Peter loved Rahul so much that all our assets and property would be given to Rahul and, by proxy, to Sheena. I killed Sheena to stop it all. When I read it, I joked to my lawyer, "Wouldn’t it be easier to just kill Rahul? Why Sheena?" It was all assumed — Rahul might marry Sheena so I killed Sheena to take over the property. What about Peter’s other son, Rabin?
For a murder accused, a chargesheet has to be filed within 90 days. The CBI was racing against time; they perhaps didn’t have enough time to do a thorough independent investigation prior to filing my chargesheet. I assume that the story in the first chargesheet didn’t fly because most of the discussed assets were in my name. I didn’t need to kill anyone to get access to them. They realized later that earlier in 2015, both Peter and I had made a will which stated that if anything were to happen to either of us, everything would go to the other spouse. But the stakes weren’t equitable — more common assets were in my name.
From the time I was arrested to the end of September, I had lost 18 kilos. I went in at 61 kilos and went down to 43 kilos. This was discovered at one of my medical check-ups and it was alarming for the prison authorities, too. I was grieving the loss of Sheena, and the loss of Peter, too. I was emotionally in a bad space. I had barely been eating. I had written to Peter every day in that month and there was no response.
On October 1, I got up at 4 am, like I usually did. I prayed, like I did every day, and then I passed out. I was rushed to JJ Hospital in a semi-conscious state and admitted to a critical care unit. I remember waking up five days later, though I was told that I had regained consciousness late at night on that very same day. When I woke up, I was surrounded by cops. I asked for some coffee. It took me some time to register the fact that I was in the hospital. For a brief period, I had cognitive memory loss. I had forgotten the entire prison episode. The doctors asked me my name and I couldn’t even recollect who I was. When they called me by my name, Indrani, I wouldn’t respond—my own name wasn’t registering. All the while, the doctors kept checking my vitals and my responses. I wasn’t talking to anyone. I wasn’t able to remember who I was. I, apparently, asked for my mother. Throughout my time at the hospital, I didn’t ask for Peter or Vidhie, I just asked for my mother in my sleep.
Later, I got to know that my mother had died of a heart attack on September 30. In Hindu mythology, we believe the spirit exists after death. It was so strange. I was unconscious around the same time that my mother passed away. We hadn’t spoken in a few months. In my state of semi-consciousness, I remembered my mother and my first day of school. Prison authorities even checked if I had somehow heard about her death from the news. But I hadn’t. I guess a child and mother are connected by instinct. It doesn’t matter if they are physically together or miles apart.
Another shocking fact came to the fore after scores of tests were done — it appeared that perhaps somebody had made an attempt on my life. A sample of my blood and urine was taken to Hinduja Hospital for further tests. The head of medicine in JJ Hospital, Dr Wiqar Sheikh, who eventually became almost a guardian to me, was convinced that something was amiss. Dr Sheikh used to visit the prison every Wednesday to check on inmates suffering from hypertension and diabetes. He had checked me at the prison earlier, before I was moved to JJ Hospital, and noticed that my pupils were constricted. It was he who recommended I get admitted. But the doctors knew I needed to be protected. Dr Sheikh insisted that I be kept in the CCU throughout my stay at the hospital. The blood samples from the Forensic Science Lab (FSL) report came out clean but the report from Hinduja Hospital showed a drug overdose. In prison, the only people who are allowed to give you medication are the prison guards. They make you have the medicine in front of them.
But I wasn’t destined to die that day. Enquiries were made and everyone around was questioned.1 The lady who gave me the last medicine I took was suspended briefly. I was usually given a sleeping capsule because I couldn’t sleep. I am convinced the hospital visit was the result of a deviant attempt. It was all eventually hushed up. A full body check-up showed I had cerebral ischemia—a blockage in the brain. The prison authorities put it out in the media that the brain blockage had caused my collapse. Even after this, there was no sign of Peter.
Excerpted with permission from Unbroken by Indrani Mukerjea published by HarperCollins India
By Indrani Mukerjea
pp. 400; Rs.599