It was a rainy morning of monsoon. Sraddha(A Hindu Ritual) were being performed, the entire sky has been occupied with crows. Although, the population of birds has dwindled because of the pollution, as per the ancient Hindu ritual crows came to eat the Sraddha.
Somewhere in distant, the horns of vehicles were blowing, children were preparing for schools. In between them, there was stillness in Niravbhai’s home. Niravbhai was sitting on the chair in the courtyard, tears were peeping out of his eyes, but did not come out because of the fear of society.
Sharada, a wife of Niravbhai, came in front of him and said, “What are you thinking? Where have you been lost? Do you remember..” Even before she completed her sentence, he interrupted “Yes, I remember those consequences happened two years earlier… I remember that heinous act.” He started sobbing, could not utter a word after. He began crying, his eyes were expressing his words.
“Why are you crying? We could not do anything in what has happened.” And he started crying, holding Sharada’s hand.
“Please do not cry… Please do not burden yourself, it is not good for your health.” Sharada knew that he was suffering from a disease of the heart.
“Yes, you are right. Patient of heart, but the same illness took the life of my daughter.” As he completed his sentence, he stood up from the chair and started walking towards his room. He pulled Sharada’s hand along.
As he walked, he said, “Sharada, Do you know who is the murderer of our daughter… It is me, I killed her. Even though hands were not mine, I made those circumstances.” He stopped as he completes.
They came inside his room, Sharada said, “What are you talking about? You inquired about everything, and then after the marriage took place. Were there mistakes? Why are you acting like it was your fault?” And she started crying.
Nirav unlocked the cupboard and started searching something between old books and papers.
Suddenly, he found a letter, and he started weeping again, like cloud bursted during monsoon days.
“What is it? And why are you crying again? Say something…” Sharada said hastily. Nirav handover the letter to Sharada.
As Sharada opened the letter and as she read the first word, she started crying embracing the letter. She could remember something, and she rooted to the spot. She sat on the bed, and started reading.
I need to write this letter to you because I am unable to tell this in front of you. Pappa, I am still in third year of my engineering… You have decided my engagements eight month ago, and I do not mind… but…
Marriage…? Do not you think this is too early? Pappa, What I did in past, is unforgivable, I am not even worthy for that. I brought disgrace to you and your reputation in the society, and for that I am ready to accept any of punishment of yours. You may not know, but I did this engagement for that only.
But after this engagement, I started afraid of something. I know that Veer is 9 years older than me and I do not even have issue with that but I am constantly feeling that he did this engagement for sexuality only.
I tried to stop him many times, but still he tries to fondle me. This may be okay and acceptable after the marriage, but even before the marriage???
I have thought about suicide so many times, but then I started thinking about my mother who borne me for 9 month in her womb, my father who raised me to this. And I leave these thoughts asides.
I will do this marriage if you say, but if it is possible, please give me a single chance. Please… So that I can prove myself. Pappa, I will not do anything that bring shame. Pappa, Even though I will get married, but truly saying, I will never ever be happy even after.
Pappa, I know you are suffering from disease of heart and if you will worry about anything, you have to face the difficult circumstances. This is why I am writing this letter to you. If you think I deserve the second chance, please break this engagement, but if not, please put this letter away, I will never ask anything about this.
Sharada felt the present of her daughter in her eyes. Nirav was staring at the wall absent-mindedly, as he heard Sharada’s woe, he said, “Our daughter got married happily for me. If I had given her a chance, she would have been here now, alive.”
There was silence all around after a long-heavy rain. Nirav said, sobbing, “She said that Veer wanted her body only… but even as being father, I could not understand her. I sold off my daughter to that rapist. Though, he and his friends are the rapists and murderers, it was me who took my daughter there.
Both, Nirav and Sharada, started weeping. They cried their heart out. The sound of sobs filled the room. The dogs barked in distance. But the ship has sailed.
Every year, in India, many parents married off their daughters considering the well beings of the in-laws and the boys. In many places these daughters has to bear those monstrous acts and other atrocities. I have given few links of such a cases below, you can read them.
It is better to trust your children and give them another chance, otherwise you will be responsible for whatever happens with them, and then there will be nothing, except regret.
29% of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had faced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands.
Her husband offered her to seven friends who raped her and clicked her nude pictures as well.
Recently, a petition to remove an exception in the Indian penal law that doesn’t consider sexual intercourse with a wife below 15 years of age as rape.
Think about it.
~ Originally written in Gujarati by Abhijeet Mehta