Sunday, December 09, 2007
It is a bit eerie to some point that right after I write a post on the Indian Girl Child, we get a phone call on another relevant issue that has hit home. We are normally used to reading about social issues or watching them on the news and creating our own theories to discuss them in forums. We think we feel the pain and misery of the people involved in such incidents and try to sympathize or show our frustration towards this enlightened clan. It is however something else when such things happen to someone near and dear - it becomes REAL.
Last Friday, during our weekend calls to India, my husband found out that a very close cousin had been pronounced dead, after eleven days in a nursing home in Kolkata due to an overdose of sleeping pills. I had met her briefly on a few occasions during my wedding, from which I had deciphered her being a very successful, independent and confident individual with a very strong personality. Later I found out that she was indeed a favorite in my husband's family. Having lost her father at a very early age, she had taken over the family business and had run it successfully for several years since then. She single handedly traveled to various parts of the world making business deals at an age where we bunked college to catch the first day first show of Shahrukh Khan's new movie.
She wasn't labeled as the kind to have an arranged marriage. However, not having met her match, she was finally convinced by family to go ahead with it. The search began and a very suitable upper-middle class educated guy with a great job at hi-tech was found to tie the knot. It seemed to be the perfect social match, until after a few weeks of the wedding it was found that the guy had an illicit relation with his first cousin and the family had arranged his social marriage to keep that a secret from the community. Basically his marriage would act as a cover for him to continue his relation with his cousin. The groom and family also suggested to their bride to have an open marriage, where she would be free to have relations with other men as she chose.
The newly wed bride was distraught and her family immediately filed a criminal case against the groom and his family. As soon as the case was filed, the groom quit his cushy job and along with his family went absconding. For all of us who has any idea on the leagl system of India knows that any court case takes forever to get resolved. The humiliation is never ending and there is no guarantee on true justice being attained.
The result - a very young, beautiful, intelligent and sincere girl who having struggled all her life, finally gives up hope and commits suicide. She is taken to the hospital where her mother and sister prays every night in hope her child will come through. After seven days, of what I can imagine to the family as being 'hell', and having no will to fight for her dear life, her soul is finally put to rest on Friday, December 7th.
There are several such cases happening every year in India. The most common we hear about are Indian guys living overseas, ties the knot with a girl chosen by his family only to find out later that the guy is already married to someone in the country where he currently resides. Either the guys are too darned scared to let their parents know that he has already found someone who is not of his own caste or creed and agrees with this parents to get into matrimony to keep them appeased or the paretns do it knowingly to hide the fact that their son is (a) gay or (b) has married someone who is not a social match in their eyes. Either way, what I don't get is how can these people be so stupid to think they will be able to keep these second wives totally in the dark forever. And moreover, why would an educated person do something like this in the first place?
Over and over again, something like this happens and it crushes my hopes of seeing the developed India we so hope for. I continue to be drawn back to my motherland but I return just a bit more frustrated. I am often surrounded with guilt for not doing anything to rectify the situation, but I just don't know where to start.