Newspapers and news channels all over Kerala have been filled with one piece of news for the last few days – arrest of a psychopathic serial killer in a small village called Koodathai, which is now on the map for a very wrong reason. In a span of 14 years from 2002 to 2016, the now 47-year-old woman killed 6 people including her husband, in-laws, uncle, and the wife and 2-year-old daughter of her husband’s cousin who she went on to marry later, by lacing their food with cyanide. It certainly is one of the most horrific cases of homicide in the history of Kerala, and without question, everyone is ‘celebrating’ the most sensational case the state has seen. There is a certain voyeuristic thrill that I believe some part of every human being’s psyche craves and this case most definitely presented it.

I wouldn’t make myself sound like a saint by saying that I am completely immune to such feelings, although like many others, it is not pleasure, but a sense of curiosity that makes me want to know what really happened. An addiction to crime thrillers, especially murder mysteries, must be another reason. But then I remind myself that what I just read is not a chapter from an Agatha Christie murder mystery, but chilling incidents from someone else’s life. The ‘twists’ and ‘shocks’ are not something to enjoy, because these are revelations that have shattered the lives of so many who are in one way or the other related to the whole thing. I do not mean the dreaded culprit and anyone who has directly or indirectly aided her in perpetrating these crimes, but the innocent ones whose lives are safe now of course, but will never be the same again, especially the children of the guilty.

However, what I have seen on social media over the last four or five days is a complete lack of consideration and empathy for these innocent souls who, for no fault of theirs, have found themselves caught in the worst nightmare anyone can have. Our people pride themselves as ones who have the grit and spirit to laugh through even major natural calamities like the severe floods of the last two years. But what the ‘funny’ makers of memes and trolls fail to understand is that there is a time and a place; there is something called misplaced humour. While making a funny meme to laugh at the face of a disaster they are part of could be looked at as indomitable spirit, flooding the Internet with “mutton soup with cyanide” memes and “why it is safer to eat out than have the food made by wife” jokes is far from spirit or humour. In simple words, it is cheap and despicable.

I wonder if any of these people who create, share or laugh at these innumerable memes have thought for a minute about the people associated with this case, other than the culprits. 6 people, all related, have been murdered in the same cold-blooded manner. Other than the murderer and her aides, these victims had so many loved ones – parents, spouse, children, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends – those who are still alive and wishing they could wake up from this nightmare and go back to a time when life was good, everyone was alive, no one they trusted and loved was a killer. I’m sure they are having a hard time avoiding news pieces with data from some journalist’s overactive imagination or ones with gruesome details that have already scarred them for life and they do not want to see again. They must also be running away from baseless rumours sent out and spread by malicious gossipmongers and junior reporters whose livelihood depends on making a scoop out of even a single word they can get out of anyone remotely related to the case. Just imagine how much more distressing it would be to see cruel memes made out of a tragedy they have no hopes of moving on from and knowing that people are happily laughing at their misery.

But that’s okay, it is their problem, right? As long as we are provided more fodder for our entertainment, it is absolutely fine to forget about the people whose pain is turned into a joke, ain’t that right? So let’s go on and continue hitting the ‘Haha’ and ‘Share’ buttons on the countless memes that are out already and the countless more that are sure to come for a very long time.