A murder in our family It was a Friday and a very hot day in the year 1958 in the month of May. Thirumalachari went to bed after finishing his daily cores. He was priest in the Sri Ram Mandhir at Bistapur, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1lace>Jamshedpur</st1lace></st1:City>. He and his wife were sleeping in the one bed room quarter allotted to them by the temple committee. It was too hot and he was perspiring even though he was covering him with a wet towel. He got up and came out and lied down on a rope cot that he kept outside in the open near the Thulasi madam. After some time he fell asleep. He never knew that he was going to sleep for ever. A rogue for whom he had given shelter and just a few hours before his wife had fed curd rice, came with a knife and stabbed him in the shoulder and the chest. He started shouting and before his wife came running, his voice died and he also died. His wife started shouting and wailing and people came running. By this time the culprit had fled away. People lifted Thirumalachari, put him in a taxi and took him to the hospital and there he was declared ‘brought dead’ by doctors. Being a murder case the body was kept in the hospital for postmortem. His son was working in TELCO Company and was staying there itself with his cousin and used to come home only at weekends. He was to come home on Saturday afternoon, but the tragedy happened on Friday night. On the early hours of Saturday someone went with a taxi and broke the news. The young man was shell shocked to hear the news and started weeping. Only for the last few months he had the fortune to live with his parents. His parents had left him with his maternal grandmother and came to <st1:City><st1lace>Jamshedpur</st1lace></st1:City> to take up the priesthood of the temple due to some family problem. Though they owned fertile lands, dew to family feud he discarded everything and went to <st1:City><st1lace>Jamshedpur</st1lace></st1:City> to join the temple as for his father in law’s advice. His son was left under his granny’s care and was put in school at Kancheepuram. So he was deprived of his parent’s love and nearness at childhood itself. After finishing his Intermediate, he went to be with his parents. By chance he got a job and he discontinued his studies also to be with his parents. And Lo! His destiny did not allow him to enjoy his father’s love. His happiness was short lived. The name of the person who committed the murder was Ramamurthy. He was a lad of twenty years. His father was from Andhra and doing small errands at the temple. Both son and father used to stay outside the temple. Just a day before this incident a theft took place in the temple. The temple committee had suspected the youth and his father and they warned them. They also told them not to loiter near the temple any more. That night he came to the temple and told Thirumalachari about the temple committee’s warning. But Thirumalachari told him not to worry and that he would take care of the matter. His wife fed him curd rice and Thirumalachari told him to go away and come in the morning. The boy was having a lover, who was a Tamilian. His father was against the marriage. Hence Ramamurthy sought the help of Thirumalachari in his love affair. Thirumalachari told him to wait for some time and he would try to convince his father. The boy got frustrated and in the mean while this new problem of theft also cropped up. Perhaps the temple committee might have told Thirumalachari to pressurize the youth and find out about the theft. As he died instantly due to the stab injuries, the truth got buried with him. Any way as there was a curfew imposed in the area due to industrial disturbance, the police were patrolling and the boy was caught red handed with blood stained clothes. His lover also gave a statement against him. A case was registered and within a year judgment was given and the boy got life imprisonment. Thirumalachari was very highly respected by all walks of people in the city and all thronged to pay him homage at the funeral. Thirumalachari was none other, he was my father in law, but this happened before our marriage. My beloved hubby lost his beloved father under unknown circumstances! An unforgettable and violent death that left an indelible scar in the mind of my mother in law and my hubby for everL Life is stranger than fiction. Our life is filled with incidents that happen only in fiction!