No one asked me

Crime Patrol on Sony Entertainment TV is kinda interesting at times. Deals with the staple - murders, thefts, drugs, social crimes across age-groups, from every possible remote corner of India and gives the viewer details of the case, matter-of-fact with all its challenges and all.

This one particular episode was around dowry harassment cum-murder.A wife, with 95 percent burns in the ICU and  indifferent in-laws absconding. We hear of such stories in North India on an everyday basis - we cringe and condemn, feel bad and forget about it, with a silent thank god - our daughters are safe or this has not happened to me.Dowry is no longer a North Indian thing now, it is so widespread and has social and religious sanction in some or the other twisted form.

Part of the reason why my folks resented my marriage into a North Indian household is the fear of dowry. As much as I am thankful to my parents for a golden childhood despite economic constraints, I am deeply upset with my father for doubting his middle class upbringing, his child of being incapable to hold on her own and for not being there for me, even now. Only, if he trusted the way he has raised me and that, V is an awesome person, without any trappings. 

The true meaning and original intent of dowry is lost thanks to the whims and manipulations of those empowered. In a faraway hamlet in Mawlynnong in Meghalaya, it is still the norm of the village and community to help a newly married young man and woman to start house. The community takes pride and responsibility to build a house, give them some fowl, household needs and life starts. This, in my understanding is dowry. And, good dowry at that.

MIL often goes nostalgic, that "all things" used to come from the girl's house and that, the girl's family used to bear all expenses and relatives from the boy's side were given "expensive" gifts at weddings, post weddings, even at childbirth, WTH..I also make no bones about the fact that our community is totally against dowry in plainspeak and no showering of unnecessary gifts happen and wedding expenses are always shared.There are those Tom and Jerry moments.

So yeah, the 95 percent burns wife lying in a ventilator on TV. I was educating P about the evils of the dowry system and all.The TV suddenly faded and P tells me she saw her mother burning like this. I was taken aback. No one in the family knows what actually happened. The blame game is still on for the last so many years. I also don't believe in digging up a painful past. In whatever graphic detail she told me, it left me shaken and strangely enough,P felt liberated after so many years. She has become numb to the taunts and humiliation that come with being a semi-orphan. I asked her what made her tell this to me. She told me she has not shared this with anyone and she still does not know why she shared with me. She said she felt overwhelmed after hearing those words on TV - 95 percent burns. What triggered after that, I know. 

Factually, P is the sole witness to the entire thing but the police never recorded her statement. She feels she was too young - 9 years to be precise. The elders also never bothered to ask her - they have been bullshitting around the matter till date. She does not remember her mother so much these days, it's been 7 years now. Anger comes and goes when old familiar spots are visited. She remembers her mother scrubbing her hard during baths and caning when she was naughty. That is all. Her mother fought for a week and wanted to speak to her. When P was taken to the ICU to meet her, she got so frightened at the blackened sight of her mother, she ran away.Does she regret that? She does not know. 

I told her she should never ever resort to the kind of thing her mother did. P told me,she won't and that she loves her life and that there are enough people in the family  who keep reminding her that her life is worthless and that she might end up like her mother. So she wants to prove a point. 

Right now, P is in boarding school and in the 8th standard. Her annual exams are just a month away. She is not the brightest but she is sort of hardworking. Life has distracted her pretty much. I promised to her that we'd learn driving in the vacation and how to operate a computer. I just hope and pray she clears her papers safely.
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