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A Shocking True Story by Andrew Sharpe - The Duty

Posted on April 03, 2010

                                                The Duty


Where to start when writing about a true story full of twists and turns with a shockingly bizarre ending making this true story for sure, not for the faint hearted. For ten years of my life this true story evolved. Some points may not be believed and some are hard to believe but during this period and writing this true story I have checked and double-checked all matters contained herein.   By Andrew Sharpe.


We find ourselves in Cochin, Southern Indian, on a business-recruiting trip in August of 1988. Ravi, a diminutive Indian man, was the only one, who, having been selected to work in Dammam Saudi Arabia, was not obviously happy at the prospect of the high potential income of his new work status. We all spoke to Ravi about our company and explained he had no need to worry about working with us in Saudi Arabia, we were a very good company in all respects, and I was the boss. My wife, who was with me in India, also spoke to him too but Ravi's huge smile and gleaming innocent child-like face was betrayed by the fear expressed in his sudden eye movements and the beads of perspiration forming on his forehead?


Twelve months later I received a strange telephone call from our head office, requesting me to urgently visit Ravi in one of our company retail outlets where Ravi worked by himself. Ravi had called our head office saying  '' he could not stay in the shop by himself '' I spoke to Ravi and I could only understand from all his explanations that he FELT nervous being alone in the shop? I arranged for another shopkeeper to take over from Ravi and took Ravi back to our camp accommodation. Our company premises were located about an hours drive in to the desert. The compound was around 100m x 250m (25,000m2) with the company factory at one end with accommodation for 250 staff at the other end. We had no neighbours and only the desert for miles with wild dogs, foxes, snakes, scorpions and dust were our only companions.


I spoke with Ravi the following day, Wednesday, for one hour but I could not make any sense of his words except his final sentence which was  ''Sir... It's better I take some medicine and kill myself'' We arranged for Ravi to fly home to India accompanied by a fellow India Company employee and friend. We contacted Ravi's family in India explaining the situation, Thursday the next day, and requested them to be at the airport for his sudden arrival on Sunday, in three days time. Saudi Arabia is not a place to stay when you are troubled with emotions or worries and due to Ravi's dramatic words it was my decision to move as quickly as possible to place him in the arms and safety of his family. We also arranged a cash advance and a six-month ''exit-entry'' immigration visa so that mentally he should feel comfortable traveling home with a friend, cash in hand and a good company position available upon his return when he was fully over his problems.


Friday morning, the next day, my telephone awoke me to the screams and incoherent sounds of one of our employee's shouting down my ear, Sir.. Come quickly. Ravi has taken a big kitchen knife and stabbed the company cook ''Shams'' many times and Shams is not moving''................I asked the whereabouts of Ravi who was being held in the camp safely. Nervously, I set-off on my thirty minute drive to our company premises uncertain if Shams was alive? Traumatized faces of our entire staff awaited my arrival with rows of police cars and policemen all shocked in to an eerie silence of stunned disbelief. I was directed to our Indian mess hall where a dozen Police Officers quietly questioned Ravi. Very sadly, Shams had died from the knife attack. I was taken to the murder scene to view Shams's body, graciously he was covered with a blanket and fortunately and surprisingly the walls and floor had very little visible blood, as I was not ready for those graphic scenes.


Ravi had no reason for the attack, no arguments, no flights, no money problems, nothing? The Police questioned Ravi for 6 hours with no conclusion why he took a ten-inch industrial kitchen knife, followed Shams to the toilet and waited outside the toilet door ready to pounce, tiger like, on an innocent man violently stabbing Shams (56) times? Officially, Shams had died from a heart attack. During the stabbing, many wild dogs had gathered outside our camp accommodation, near this toilet area. These dogs bark and howl too much at nighttime, not in the morning! That morning, at 7.30am, the dogs were howling so loud added together with the screams coming from the toilet, that everyone (around 150 staff) were so frightened they could not open their accommodation doors, except............. for two brave men. Ali, our cook, rushed to the toilet to see Ravi sitting on top of Shams who was laying on the floor whilst Ravi was methodically stabbing him all over his body. Ali shouted at Ravi ''Stop... he is already dead'' Ravi replied "I want to make sure'' as Ravi continued moving up and down the body with his knife. Vejay, our pressman said, "he tried to stop the attack but Ravi throw him out of the toilet area like a rag doll.'' Although a small man Ravi had suddenly found extra power and strength from his actions. Vejay said he was greatly shocked and surprised by the unusual power of Ravi. Ravi stopped the attack, calmly stood up and walked out of the toilet area, knife in hand, saying to Vejay as he passed him "I've done my duty.''  Ravi dropped the knife in a flowerbed and quietly walked fifty meters to a bunch of stones, where, he sat down lit a cigarette to await his fate.


The day before, Thursday, I asked my factory supervisor to speak with Ravi to see if he could understand his problems. These are my supervisor's comments on that two-hour conversation.


Ravi spoke freely about his life and the problems he thought he was facing and explained as follows: Ravi said he had fallen in love with a beautiful young Indian girl, their love was mutual and they planned to marry. Unfortunately the girl's parents had promised her to another man and she left Ravi against his demands and wishes. Ravi said he was very hurt and bitterly disappointed. Ravi explained; in India there are many cults and sects, even today, who practice their religion through ignorance and fear. These cults are common in poor areas with limited external communicational access and poor education. Ravi said he followed one of these cults. Ravi, raged by the girl betrayal, said he visited a powerful Temple in his area and placed a 'curse' on this girl to the most powerful Goddess he worshipped. The 'curse' he asked his Goddess to carry out on this girl was ' for her to die in a violent way ' Many months later Ravi explained that he and the same girl came back together and married, although, the curse was still placed on the girl, accordingly to Ravi.
Ravi said he wanted to try to return or stop the curse being carried out on the girl, which he said was possible according to his religion in two ways:


1. To carry out a good deed to the value of the curse and offer this good deed to replace the curse

2. To offer money or valuables to the value of the curse.


Ravi explained that he did not have enough money, valuables or good deeds to return the curse as the curse was by any standard, a huge debt. He also explained that if the curse was not carried out, on the intended victim, the curse would return to the person who placed the curse in the first place. Ravi said he thought the curse was coming back to him because of his own betrayal and subsequent marriage. How could he explain to his wife, he could not?

To escape the curse Ravi said he changed his religion from Hindu to Christian, much against his wife's wishes. Ravi said that he came to Saudi Arabia to runaway from the curse but when working in our shop by himself, he became very frightened fearing the curse was coming for him and wanted to change his religion once again to Muslim, his wife said she would divorce him.

All of Ravi's explanations did not answer the question why he took the life of Shams. We looked at various reasons and theories to understand this strange case but no logical answers came forth until my wife called me on the telephone one morning. My wife was excitedly explaining that such cases were in the Bible and although Ravi knew these practices still exist today in his religion in India, he had not for good reasons told my factory supervisor the 'whole truth'


There is one other way in which a curse may be cancelled or stopped and this method is still practiced today in India. Ravi, violently took the life of Shams as a sacrifice to stop the curse coming back to him. Ravi, in his mind, stopped to the curse coming to him or being carried out on his wife by sacrificing Shams!!!


We spoke to many religious people in Saudi Arabia and people from India who told us that such rituals are carried out in a certain way:


The sacrifice must be carried out after sunrise and before 10am, (the murder took place at 7.30am.) The sacrifice must be carried out in a cover place and in a non-clean area, (inside a covered toilet area.) No one should witness the sacrifice, (two persons interrupted the sacrifice but no one witnessed the event.) All blood must be drained from the sacrifice as an offering to their Goddess. (No blood was seen as it all went down a floor drain.) They also explained, dogs sense the devil and evil. How could the dogs be in same place at the same time, howling and not barking, in the morning? Plus, we were explained that when carrying out these acts, the attacker, from the power of the devil, derives great strength? Vejay was 'thrown like a rag doll' and why did Ravi say '' I've done my duty''' and ''I want to make sure.''


Ravi was convicted of murder, Shams family pardoned Ravi in lieu of 'Blood Money' $30,000 - (blood money is still paid today in many countries through lawful Government control and is an acceptable practice.) Blood money is paid to settle the civil case but not the legal case which must be settled via time in prison for the crime committed assuming of course the court finds a guilty verdict. Shams was married but had no children and no major financial commitments hence the amount paid was not the maximum, how much is the maximum? I did not bother to find out. If Shams had for example, four children, the amount of blood money would have been much higher. Shams wife remarried. Ravi is back in India with his wife and child after spending ten years in a Saudi Arabian jail. 


(All names and places and times have been changed for anonymity)


Footnote:


This whole case consumed a great part of my life as we raised the funds to pay the blood money amongst our fellow workers and owners of the company. Through many emails and correspondence with Ravi's wife and visits to Ravi in jail, plus the final chapter had me going down to the local morgue, three months after Shams's death, to identify him prior to his body being shipped home, to make sure the correct person WAS sent to the right family in the right country. I could only conclude from this; some bodies have been sent to the wrong families. Shams's brother was an ex-employee and due to the years we worked together I corresponded with him directly being the family elder. Our long working relationship made that side of this tragedy slightly easier. Had we not paid the blood money, Ravi would have been beheaded one fine Friday morning after payers in the town center for all to view in an area locally know as ''Chop-Chop Square'' and we would have been asked, politely, to witness the deed a long with a few thousand locals. 


When Ravi left Saudi Arabia for India I was free to leave Saudi Arabia too, having closed the book and all its chapters on these true events.


Andrew Sharpe

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