“We have a situation at the government district hospital. There seems to be an unidentified individual who has taken over wards on the right wing of the building. The doctors say he headed towards the paediatrics ward, and that he had a handgun with him, You need to report there immediately. We will send backup as soon as possible. We have to sort it out before the situation escalates to national news.” The chief commissioner gave the order.
This was my first year as an inspector of this small town and this was a very delicate case to handle, in fact it required planning and a trained squad. I wasn’t ready for this but there was no other way. All the other officers were posted for security for the Minter of Energy who was visiting a Dam site for hydroelectricity opportunities.
This Dam was the only thing which made this small town famous. There was nothing much here. Population was below ten thousand, all low socio economic status and only huts everywhere. The only building was the hospital which was now under attack.
I rushed to the scene.
The situation was worse than I thought. Couple of ambulances were waiting outside with the red bad blue lights rotating on the roofs. The nurses and the doctors were all crowded outside the hospital. The few patients who were admitted were being evacuated, in their beds, the iv fluid dragged by the ward boys. It was chaos.
One of the senior Doctors came running to me.
“Please, you have to do something fast” It was ironic, these words coming from doctor. I had used the same words when one of my friends had been shot and took him to the doctor.
I felt very powerful when he said it to me.
“Ok Ok, just stay back. Calm down” I said. I was in charge, and the doctors had to listen to me.
I could see the reporters at the scene So, I was happy and expecting my photo tomorrow.
“Sir, a man…. he ……… a gun…….in the pediatric ward. The children…….” he was mumbling random words. But I understood him.
“Ok, where is this ward” I took out my small, six bullet pistol. I wasn’t very proud of the Indian police weaponry but it was improving in the metros. I knew it would take at least a decade to reach the rural India.
“I will show it, I will come with you.” He started walking.
“Wait here, tell me where it is. I will handle it. You stay here”
“Sir, those kids, their mothers. They are my responsibility. I have to go in. They are my patients. I don’t mind risking my life for my patients. It is my duty” he wiped his eyes again and again waiting for mu consent.
“Ok but just till outside the ward”
“Stay behind me”
I took the lead, my hands stretched forward and the nozzle of my pistol sneaking out through my fingers and both knees slightly bent.
“Here left” he said.
The entrance lead to three routes, right, straight and left. So left it was.
The pathway was narrow and long. The wards were alongside as we walked by. This was a typical government hospital. There were spider webs along the ceilings, I could see used needles, bandages thrown around. It was pathetic.
Again we come to three ways, now it was right.
We walked through a similar narrow corridor. The architecture wasn’t changed since its establishment 60 years back and the interior was confusing.
Good thing the doctor was with me.
He stuck to me, I could hear him breathing in my ear.
It was getting dark and the lights came on suddenly. The lights were so dim that I felt it was better without them. Even plain candles would have been better.
“Here it is” he pointed to a small room.
“That is the Pediatric ward”
“Ok, Stay here”
I gripped my pistol firmly. My hands were numb from the continuous pressure.
I walked slowly into the room.
The room was a little bigger than expected. There were around five beds, all of them empty. There was no one.
Suddenly, my microphone spoke “Backup on the way, two minutes”
“There is no one here” I said to myself.
The lights swayed at the far end. I pointed at that.
I saw a shadow.
There was someone.
“Stay away from the kid” I said in a very calm voice.
There was no reaction from him. He just stood there with his hands resting on the child’s head. The lamp light above him was swinging side to side, casting moving shadows on the wall.
“Let him go, or I will shoot you” I was hoping for a reaction this time.
Nothing still. The only noise was from the swinging lam light.
Finally, the lamp light slowed down and stopped directly above the man.
Now I could see him and the kid clearly.
He was a thin, dark man in his mid-thirties. He had thin mustache and a stubble. He wore a white shirt loosely hanging from his shoulders and dark pants. He was untidy.
He kept staring at me, his eyes were red. Clearly he was under the influence of alcohol.
“Let the kid go”
He brushed the kid’s hair with his hand to a neat crop and gave him a kiss.
“This is my son, I will never let him go. You understand” he shouted and started laughing like a maniac.
I saw the kid.
He was suffering from some genetic abnormality. His tongue was protruding out, his forehead was really broad bog, his eyes seemed to be very far apart from each other. Maybe it was Down’s syndrome. I wasn’t sure but most probably that was it.
Children with Downs usually suffer from infection and maybe he had got admitted for something like that.
“You have to let the kid go” he was continously rubbing the child but with the pistol.
He laughed again.
“Ok, listen backup is on the way. There is no way out. You understand. The only reasonable thing to do is let the kid go. No one is going to hurt you. Throw the pistol away.” I moved a little closer.
“Who, you are going you are going to sort this out. You……. the police who don’t even care about the good honest citizens……. you will help a criminal like me. I might be crazy, but I know how the system works” He started laughing again.
“Please…. give me my child back” a woman emerged from the shadows.
Her forehead was bleeding and her lips were swollen up. She was crying as she approached him with folded hands.
It was the child’s mother.
“Your child. Your child” he screamed in high pitch.
“Our child. My child and you took him away from him. You bitch………. he is not your child” he kicked the woman straight in the abdomen. She fell to the ground but recovered immediately.
It was a heavy blow, but the pain didn’t bother her much.
From the situation, I pretty much guessed what was going on.
There were married and they had a child together, but him being an alcoholic and criminal, the wife left the house. Years later he had found her and now he wanted the kid back.
The wife, just kept approaching him and he kept hitting her back. But she never gave up. Once he got so frustrated that, he held the kid with one hand and kept hitting the wife with the other even after she went to the floor.
“I will shoot you” I said.
“Don’t interfere or I will kill both of them and then kill myself”
So I just stood there.
He kept beating his wife to a pulp and I just stood there watching it happen.
Then out of nowhere the doc sneaked behind me.
“Hey……. kill him” he told me.
“What…. I told you to wait outside. Get out” I told him. The man was so busy beating his wife that he didn’t look towards us.
Now was my chance.
“Get out of here doc, let me do my duty”
“Yes, do your duty. Kill him”
“I will. Just stay calm” I could sense the doc being very impatient.
I took aim of the man and waited.
“Shoot him now” the doctor said.
I wanted the perfect shot.
I could sense an opening.
And just like that, the doctor snatched the pistol from my hand and pulled the trigger.
My ears were numb from the shot. What the hell. The doctor took the shot.
First the woman, she was safe. The man, I was hoping blood to be coming out from somewhere.
Damn, the doctor had shot the kid.
The man noticed his kid shot. He was shocked, his pistol fell off from his hand.
He held the kids head as they both fell to the ground. The wife was there lying on the ground, badly beaten up. She was unconscious.
The backup had arrived.
I didn’t know how to explain this.
The doctor had made a mistake and he would go to jail. It was a tragic event but I didn’t see how I could help him out of this. There was a witness to this.
This was one of the most tragic events I had ever encountered. A mother getting beaten up and losing her only child. A doctor had killed his own patient.
It was tragic.
There was nothing that could be done to escape. It was my responsibility and I didn’t do my job well.
Now I had to face the consequences.