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|Tragic outcomes to wasted lives|
|Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:06|
SHE was married according to Hindu rites, under the ‘maro’. Hers was an arranged marriage, with the pandit of the two families fixing the match. All the rituals and traditional celebrations and other mores were insisted upon by the groom’s family, and this included dowry and expensive gifts.
She was the only child of her parents and she had never really known love in any real sense. Her father was disappointed that she was not born a boy and his disapproval was a dark thread interweaving every sphere of her existence. Her mother was the type of Hindu wife who was supremely dutiful to her husband, even to the point of shunning her only child as a reflection of her husband’s attitude. Because she was so young when she was married and the birth of her first child was such a difficult one, she had never brought another child to full-term, with miscarriage after miscarriage, almost every year as she tried to fulfill her husband’s craving for a son, she was eventually warned by the doctors to stop trying if she wanted to live.
Gauri (name changed to protect identity) grew up as a child rebuffed by both parents, because her mom saw her as a symbol of her failure to produce sons for her husband. They did not stint her education and she was a college graduate when they fixed her marriage. She was a prime candidate for an arranged wedding to a divorcee with children.
She transited from one luxurious but loveless and subservient existence to another, serving and obedient to her husband and his parents and siblings as she had been to her own parents, with one exception. She was subjected to constant physical abuse by her much older husband and her mother-in-law.
She was conditioned from birth to accept the worst possible treatment and had no concept that she was entitled to any other, until her youngest brother-in-law returned from his studies in the USA.
Although he respected his eldest brother, his years spent in the USA had oriented him to treat women as equals and with respect, and he was appalled at the way his very young, beautiful and intelligent sister-in-law was treated.
In quiet conversations he tried to encourage his family to treat her as a member of the family instead of like an indentured servant; but they brushed his concerns away with scorn.
Bit by bit, as he observed her gentleness with her stepchildren, and her intelligence as she helped them with their homework, his respect soon transformed into love, and his eyes followed her longingly whenever they were in a room together, although he tried his best to hide his feelings.
But for the first time in her life someone was unfailingly kind and courteous to her and, human nature being what it is, she blossomed like a rare flower and gradually began reciprocating his love.
Gauri’s and Suresh’s love was a silent one without communication, because neither would have crossed traditional boundaries.
The day I received her call and went to her home, I was shocked at her appearance. Her right arm had been in a cast, broken by an enraged husband who felt slighted because she asked him to wait as she served her mother-in-law.
She showed me a bald patch at the top of her head where he had grabbed her hair and dragged her down the stairs, during which ordeal her hair had come out in bloodied clumps and her hand snagged and broken.
Her lips were cut. She lifted her gharara and showed me the black, blue and purple marks where she had been kicked repeatedly. Her husband had been wearing pointed tip shoes at the time. He left her huddled at the bottom of the stairs and slammed out of the house. Her parents-in-law remained unconcerned in their room. The ruckus had not awakened the children.
When Suresh had returned home that evening he was shocked beyond words to see her lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs, with blood oozing from a badly-cut mouth where her husband had cuffed her.
He took her to an apartment that he had rented prior to moving away from the pain of seeing her unhappiness and the temptation she provided and got a doctor friend to treat her wounds privately.
Then he confronted his brother and parents with a condition – and a threat.
That the brother/husband give her an uncontested divorce in exchange for no charges being laid and that their parents on both sides never again contacted either of them.
They agreed. Today she has another shot at life.
But not every abused woman has a Suresh in her life. Many persons within their social enclave knew of the way she was being treated and none reported it, because none thought it was their business.
Because persons within communities did not think it was their business to report instances of abuse many women and children have suffered violations and even been murdered, when a timely intervention could have saved someone’s life.
Evil can only perpetuate if good people think it is not their business; so unless we return to the era when each of us was our sister’s or brother’s keepers there will be many more Gauris, who would suffer even more tragic outcomes to their wasted lives.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:27|
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