I first came across this almost preternaturally insightful journal at the Jhansi railway station. I was making faces at a singularly hideous toddler when my eye suddenly caught a jumble of colourful headlines amid a newspaper vendor’s otherwise drab selection of titles. The words, splashed boldly near a picture of a darkly lipsticked woman with her chin held by a fiercely intent man (not clear whether she was about to receive a violent kiss or have root canal treatment), screamed for attention:
Lesbian Lovers’ Taj Mahal of Sand Crashes!
To Get His Lover He Murdered His Sister!
You Can Get Rid Of Frigidity and Infertility!
Needless to say, I was more than happy to hand over 25 rupees for this irresistible combination of romantic intrigue, family dynamics and health advice. I started off with the free and informative booklet inside on frigidity and infertility. However, instead of sticking to this narrow topic, many other aspects of human sexuality were also engaged with in a highly original fashion. I learned many new things. For example, the precision of this definition of rape is probably yet to be rivalled: ”When a young male servant forces the little young girl or a maid servant forces a young boy to have sex with her, it generally can be termed as rape.” What a valuable service to criminal profiling. The booklet further informs that frigidity and impotence are related to childhood emotional trauma caused by ”..(watching) a mother force her male servant or a father force his maid servant to have sex with him…” I couldn’t help but wonder about the events in the author’s life, but parents, this is a wake up call for you to invest in a vacuum cleaner, washing machine and dishwasher right away.
Once I had fully assimilated the valuable lessons contained in the booklet, I went on to the main features. Let me turn to Professor Anil Aggarwal, a specialist in forensic medicine and a once regular contributor to the magazine. He correctly describes Crime and Detective in his website as a ”… monthly magazine devoted to the reporting of crime, (giving) articles of general interest on a variety of subjects related to crime, criminology, law and allied subjects.” The allied subjects in my first copy were (a) Nudity- A Way to Good Health; and (b)Mystery of Good Samaritan Ghosts. Sadly, there were no clear photographs to illustrate either of the two subjects. My disappointment, however, did not last long for I soon discovered that the other stories in the magazine were unflinchingly graphic, often complete with satisfying pictures of decapitated corpses and mugshots of lecherous sadhus, cuckolded husbands and scheming madams. No cowardly journalistic pussyfooting here.
And the head-on (or off, I’m afraid, in many cases) approach certainly didn’t end with good old candid camera. Not only did the reporters appear to have been present at crime scenes and in court, but uncannily, they seemed to have witnessed everything that the victims and perpetrators said from the time they were born to the time of the crime. For instance, the journalist writing about the lesbians in the Taj Mahal of sand, appeared to have spent a long afternoon outside the room where these women first ”blackened their faces”. This is evident when he describes what he heard, ”After a while shut room echoed with loud ‘chap-chap’ sounds as if two hungry cats were licking platefuls of butter cream.” Yet another eavesdropping reporter describes how a room resounded with ”hissing sounds” as a homicidal seductress worked her charms on a future victim. Maybe they were doing a kinky Nagina roleplay of some sort; but we should not even attempt to understand the depravities of twisted minds and the unusual vocal proclivities that go with them. Suffice it to say that each crime is reconstructed here in meticulous and painstaking detail. Where run-of-the-mill crime publications, with their focus on “alleged events”, only demonstrate authority when they pontificate endlessly about sociolegal ramifications and all that blather, Crime and Detective cuts to the chase and tells you exactly what was said and done before, after and during the crime.
Just to give you an idea : I bet you didn’t know that lascivious kidnappers actually say things like , ”O Bengali rasgulla! Run but there is no exit. Our bed is your only destiny. Now go and have your breakfast and we will lunch with your body.” Well, now you know the sordid truth. Then there was the case of a ”Rotten Son and his Slut Mother in a Deadly Soup” where the victim pretty much asked for a fatal bludgeoning when he said to his mistress’s (slut Madhulika) son (rotten Pankaj), ”You are virtually a destitute. Forget loan,drink more, eat aplenty and then get out of here.” He probably hadn’t heard about what happened to Marie Antoinette when she opened her big mouth. I could cite thousands of such examples, but you should go and see for yourself. I don’t know what you think, but a staff comprising almost entirely of omnipresent and omniscient journalists is not something even the best of publications can boast of.
But there is more to Crime and Detective than, well, crime and detectives. If you’re beginning to think that this magazine is all about cold, hard facts, then you’re very mistaken. Starting on page 60 of every precious issue, is an artistically crafted pictorial story, usually with a valuable moral lesson attached. Nature is powerfully and seductively evoked in dialogues that are a real boon for romantically inept people such as myself. In fact, I did recite one such poetic speech verbatim on the phone to a male friend who was, shall we say, trying to have an amorous conversation with me. ”The weather has become very mast mast…the skies are still pouring, the earth parched by heat is cooling. I too am parched.You’re the sky, I’m the earth. Let earth lower itself to earth because it’s thirsty. Let sky down pour.” It worked. He gave me his first (and alas, last) gift! I expected a little more satin and lace, but I’m holding on to that copy of Rapidex English Speaking Course for sentimental reasons.
This wasn’t the last time that I looked to trusty C&D for romantic advice. I found inspiration in a story about a Black Widow in the Web of Love (the black widow had quite a gala time before getting enwebbed so I had good reason). In short, a salacious photographer apparently gave the BW these very instructions: ”Produce sexy expression on your face and let your lips be pressed a little between your teeth. Then smile pleasantly.” I wonder how she did it. While the expressive mobility of the human face is not to be scoffed at, I couldn’t quite manage this: I ended up looking toothless, constipated, and slightly menacing all at the same time. My date at the time threatened to file a restraining order against me if I ever did it again. But this shouldn’t deter you from trying. It supposedly looks quite alluring if you get it right –the black widow earned 20,000 bucks a night for that expression alone. Let me know if it works for you. Perhaps I just don’t have what it takes to be a femme fatale, but who knows, as I continue to learn from Crime and Detective, someday maybe even I could spin a lethal web or two and be the next love-trap-laying lucious lass on the magazine’s cover.