Chapter One – The Edibility Test Of A Human Brain
OCTOBER 2009: Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University
19-year-old Garima Khatry is packing for our vacation. It has been a tough semester for her, given her frequent nature of seizures. They would come in the form of waves, swooping her consciousness into a state of void, slapping her out of reality and then having her pass out for more than a couple of days at every incidence. Garima’s only solace remained in her good friend, Raquib, who had shown immense patience in taking care of her. He’d helped her catch up with her notes and syllabus on multiple occasions and has always been a person she could blindly rely on in times of validation and moral support. For a girl like Garima, who as vouched by her lecturers to be brilliant in conceptualization and mathematics, but only half decent in her cognitive skills and communication, finding a friend like Raquib was the best thing that could happen. Being a loner wasn’t going to help her in any way.
As Garima Khatry leaves the college to a take a bus which would take her back home in Hingoli, she remembers the pleasant morning strolls she would take with Raquib across the university football ground. Over the year, they were placed in two different hostels, categorically because of the different streams. Garima was pursuing her BTech in Biotechnology and Raquib was in MA Economics. They were three years apart in their academic years but shared the same sense of the world. They would coordinate their timings early in the morning, where they could spend an hour together at the minimum. Raquib would sometimes bring his iPod with new songs and they would listen to it. Garima would sometimes request him for an artist’s song, and that would make her day even more exciting. On most occasions, their spot for a meeting was the wooden benches on the way to the chemistry department. Over the period of knowing each other and being good friends with each other, they had kissed only twice.
Once during a winter morning, when Raquib was adamant that Garima listen to some song, and Garima in her playful mood had pulled him closer to refute him. Their lips brushed against each other, and what followed was a couple of minutes of tender and yet passionate kissing.
The second time was three months later when Garima kissed Raquib who laid on the ground in the middle of the night behind their football ground. She had felt so happy and exhilarated by this act of passion that it didn’t matter if Raquib had broken her trust. He was dead after all, and his brain as Garima hoped would be as tasty as his lips. And then after kissing him, she took a boulder and started acutely started cracking his ribcage open…
Chapter Two – The Mind Of A Heart Eater
March 2015: Yerawada Central Jail – Secure Zone 7 – CLR Secondary
We are humans, and by that very reason somehow, we are intrigued most by ourselves. Come to think of it, whatever we undertake, analyze or collate, is somehow deeply rooted within the realm of structuring our individualistic personalities. The knowledge we procure by any means is coloured and hued by the understanding which we have of our place in the world. In my journey of understanding people, collecting their stories and sharing it with you, my readers, I have often wondered if my way of packaging has influenced the way you need to understand it. Perhaps it does. Or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter. However, what matters is sometimes even though we try to understand a case cognitively, we fail to understand the intent or content of it.
One such instance in this series of ‘Anatomy of Crime’ is the case of Garima Khatry, who is perhaps the only woman to have been evidenced and prosecuted in the country for seven established crimes and tendencies of cannibalism, in addition to two counts of necrophilia. And so to understand her was to understand nothing and in some ways everything. A certain sense of randomization, if you will. Randomization which I feel when I first look at Garima, a quaint 25-year-old woman, who resembles innocence to the core. A petite figure, and calm demeanour, she reminds me of any random university student. Traditional with a dash of rebellion in them. University was six years ago, and yet it seems Garima has never really aged.
The following conversations include highly disturbing content and incidences of graphic violence. We plead our readers to exercise due caution before they proceed any further.
Exercise One – Understanding Not The Crime And Not The Criminal
Garima Khatry, would you be comfortable if I call you Garima? Or do you prefer something else?
Garima. Yes. Yes. I am Garima. You do understand, right? My name is Garima, so Yes.
Sure. So Garima, in your files I have come to understand that you belong to a town called Hingoli. Do you want to talk about it? Maybe describe it?
Hingoli is a village. I came from there. I also come from Nagpur and Mumbai. So which one is native? My question is, what is native? My birth? My thought? My decision? So Hingoli, yes. It is a village I was born in. Small village with a stream of water flowing at the corner. Like any other village. Native means, yes, I can understand. My parents are from there, but not really. (She starts slightly fidgeting across the chair, her deep brown eyes still fixated upon me, but I can sense that she is deep in thought). They are from Jabalpur. So I cannot describe much about it. I do not remember many things from Hingoli. I think you can go there by bus from here. You can get a bus every seven to eight hours. (She starts flexing her fingers as she answers).
Regarding Nagpur, can you tell me how did you choose this particular university? And it says that you had enrolled for Biotechnology? I assume that back in 2009, BioTech was still something very new for people to take as a degree. Could you tell me how and why you chose it?
Reason is nothing. You understand? I did what I did because it is who I am. He (Raquib we assume) was there. You can say it is the reason maybe? He was a good person. A good man also. Not stupid but not smart also. You can say that he was limited. Yes. Yes. He was limited. He thought, maybe he thought that he thought that he could understand. You understand? Reasons. Like a dozen reasons, when there were very few. Sometimes none. Have you thought of it? You always think of reasons when you cannot think of situations. He used to play songs which I liked. You see someone who can take care of you, and you think yes, he will. You start to believe in a lie. And then he doesn’t.
Mohd Raquib’s body was found on the college campus near the drain. He was dead for two days by the time they found him. The report states that Raquib’s ribcage was broken and his arms detached.
I have nothing to do with his arms. (she interjects). When you understand how a different body than yours feels like, isn’t it magical? Raquib used to insert his penis inside me in the darkest corners of the college. He used to cover my eyes so that I did not have to see it. Initially, that was what we did. We never came close at a facial level. Raquib said, and I still agree that it is true, that as long as our faces did not touch each other, we could be strangers. Faces are for recognizing people, you understand? If I do not see something, everything is the same. Nothing changes. I remember, he asked me to come and meet him behind my hostel. When I went, he asked me to tie a blindfold around my eyes. I did so. And then he explained this while inserting his penis inside me. It felt different but weirdly exciting. And because he had taken care that I did not see his penis, it was not him. At least not definitely. Logically we both agreed that it made sense. We were not romantically involved as long as he did not get a physical taste of each other.
One morning when we were listening to songs, we tasted each other for the first time. I could feel his tongue inside my mouth, and we were, if you understand, exploring. I could not understand. Do you have this feeling sometimes? You are agitated and excited. No no no. Not like that. I’ll ask again. You burn from inside because of something new. And then you feel like you are dying. You understand? We had tasted ourselves. I was reasonable. I needed to taste him more. Entirely. When you ask these people here (she points at the police constables who are standing at the door frame), they will tell you all things they understand. They will tell you that I killed him. No, that’s not true. I merely consumed him. After I understood how he tasted, I knew I had to consume him. Not him, but him. You understand? One day, I just asked him to come to the ground and dropped a boulder over his face. He was not dead. Just maybe to some extent unconscious. I could still feel his penis erect. I knew what to do with it. We had used it at least four times before. Although it was making me fulfilled, I still wanted a taste of him. His heart was alive. Beating. Slowly but beating. I knew what to do then and there. To consume it. Pluck it out and eat it. Simple as that. Raquib would want it. I think I understand.
This particular incident took place in 2009. In the next three years, till ‘they’ took you in, is it untrue that you were involved in seven crimes of murder and cannibalism…
Please do not use the word murder. I hate it. I HATE IT. YOU UNDERSTAND?
(I nod silently in agreement)
…..7 experiments, can I say that?
Experiments. Studies. Yes. Yes. He was a good person. But I was tired. I could only imagine his taste inside of me. His heart, when I chewed upon it, tasted nothing like him. You understand? We all are different people. In our thoughts and tastes. Raquib tasted nothing like what I had imagined. You cannot imagine a taste, have you noticed? You see a person and feel this urge. You imagine how they would taste like. Sticky, textured, smooth, rough is just how you could chew them. But how would their insides taste like? Have you not wondered about it? Sweet, sour, bitter, bland, spicy maybe? You see someone and feel like, yes yes yes, they should seem tasty. Much like Men feel like when they refer to breasts of a woman. How do you explain it? You just know that someone is going to be delicious.
I do not remember when, I was travelling in Nagarsole express, and a man, in his twenties was interested in me. As time crossed midnight, I knew I had to know him. Getting his penis inside me was not, I would say difficult. I am not a prostitute, but I know I can be convincing. We occupied the upper birth, as we mutedly started our sexual encounter. He could not let go of my breasts, specifically this one (she points at her left breast proudly, pressing it to further drive the point). He licked it, bit it, and tried to suck it as much as he could in the position that we slept. However, I could only taste the sweat on him. His unbuttoned torso didn’t give me much to explore. Also, he was urgent. You understand? He felt the act is less guilty if it is done more quickly.
This is where I stopped him before he could ejaculate. I convinced him that we needed to go to the toilet as my legs were cramped up. He agreed and we quickly went to the washroom. I did not want him to ejaculate inside me. I could never taste him then. It was difficult to kneel on the wet floor in a moving train, but I did and took his penis inside my mouth. He could not ejaculate then. I tried but he was too scared. Then I had to do what I thought I could not do after Raquib. As his head hit the metal washbasin, he started losing his consciousness. Now I could taste him. I always carried a blade with myself. And I used it. I only wanted to eat his heart. And then I got off at the next station. With men it was simple.
You seem to have this particular ‘taste’ in men. Since you also seem to understand why you did what you did, can we talk about why this might’ve happened? This urge, as you said.
It is not a sickness. Why do they call it a sickness? I don’t understand, do you? If I can eat a particular piece of bird or an animal, no one has a problem with it. I have always understood that human skin is more delicious than anything else. You understand that, why do we crave for company? Yes yes. We term it relationships or bondages, but what is it that we are doing? We are just craving for a skin to touch us which is not our own. It makes us happy when someone sleeps with us, touches us, has sexual encounters with us, you understand why? It is simple. I think our bodies are filled with dust which only we can taste and enjoy.
When I was a child, my mother used to make me suck her toes. No no nothing wrong with that. She used to work as a daily wage worker and used to be barefoot all day long. She would come home, wash her legs, which would be battered and bruised by the day’s work. She would then ask me to lick her wounds and suck on her toes. I have seen my mother lose her pain slowly as I did what she asked. By tasting her, she would explain to me, I am creating a deep bond of understanding. And I am providing her strength and vitality through my sucking. I can prove to you why I was important in making her live her life without pain. The day I got admission into University, back in 2008, she started falling sick frequently and then one day she just disappeared. I don’t know if she killed herself or not, but when I went to visit her in winter, my home had been sold and no one knew where she went.
Since we are on the topic, what was your aim while your studying in University?
(she looks beyond me at a wall without breaking her stance. And then momentarily she closes her eyes). You will find it seductive if I say something sexual right? You understand. The moment a woman talks about her own body, men find it erotic. I press my breasts, or bite my lips, or talk about having sex with another man in the train, you will feel erotic yes? Why is that? You imagine. You don’t understand. You crave for it. Do you now understand? Even if you know every woman is different, you still think the same craving is justified for everyone. Animal. Just as you are an animal, everyone is. You will never understand. I can see that. You want to say that yes yes, she is a woman and that she will have a reason for doing what she does. No no. That is wrong. THAT IS WRONG. YOU ARE WRONG. AND I WILL NOT SPEAK TO SOMEONE WHO IS WRONG…!!
Garima stands up and shouts at the constable at the door frame. She bangs her hands on the table twice and the constable ushers her away from the CLR room.
For days to follow, I did not understand much of her case, as she had rightly spoken. As part of my research, I did go through many cases across the world which involved cannibalism as the main convection. Garima, though adhered to some thought processes involved in these cases, in that she also felt a constant craving, hunger if you will, towards people close to her, I could not decisively point out that she was similar to other cannibals. My subsequent attempts at having a second interview with Garima were denied. After seven months of inquiring about Garima, I came to the knowledge that she was transferred to a Psychiatric facility in east Agra. To have a deeply intelligent woman like her, coherent and articulate for the most part, be treated as a psychiatric ward, I felt was categorically wrong. But then, what was the solution. Sometimes ideas that we form inside our mind, define who we are. Assumptions and presumptions. Guesses and anticipations. Opinions take the form of habits, and habits become our existence. When there is no complete story, why am I even bringing the case of Garima Khatry to you? Perhaps I find it in my mind that I have no clear perception of what to make of it. Maybe it is clearer to you. Maybe you see the world in a different view. Maybe you do understand. Do you?