MURDERERS OF CHILDHOOD – I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU

I feel sorry…

Actually, I feel sorry for everything that happens around me, or even for matters that fall in my ears. If I am to cite an incident on instances I felt sorry, I would have plenty of them to pool in.

Marriage is all about in a relationship with a lot of understanding beyond imagination. Coping with married life needs better understanding at least with respect to age. When families marry off those kids (girls) at such a young age, I wonder how much do they concede. It is true their perception is never recognised, but all they do is flow with the marriage.

When in India, the legal age for marriage is 18, there are still child marriages happening in India. To my knowledge, my maid, who is hardly now 25 years has already four kids, and she was married at a young age of 15. And such young ages they conceive and give birth. They hardly get basic education, health facilities or anything that is requisite for such a young age. And they are all the more burdened with responsibilities of managing the family.

As she narrated me, there are many girls in their village who are getting married at the same age, they are mostly given a minimum education which she claims is just enough to read and write as the schools in those outskirts are not much more advanced to offer enough learning. Imagine, when we are assured the government is offering a good education, there are schools where nothing is done -maybe I can say, there is no school itself.

These girls are married off to some guys, who just ensure they have two three kids, and abandon those kids and the wife to survive on their own. And it is up to them especially the girl’s family or all by herself to endure then.

Is that what responsibility means?

It is not just poverty-stricken families who are on the same page, there are many in the urban areas who ensure to get their girl child to marry at a very early age- as if they are de-burdening themselves.

I felt sorry for such families who do such heinous act. At such tender ages, they are bound to enjoy their teenage, learn the life lessons step by step. For them, Marriage is like pushing them into a well and then lock up there for several years to endure a responsibility that came in soon.

It is not just the issue of younger age, they are also bound to give sufficient dowry to feed the richly-poor grooms family who shamelessly asks the girl’s family to pay for their expenses.

Even the urban areas are infected with such pathetic people, who are shamelessly greedy enough.

I feel sorry for such parents, who marry their girls off to such families, who are just greedy. Nothing could be done other than they being cursed with a Midas touch like a curse.

I being a mother of two girls, would ensure I don’t steal my children’s future and their dreams just to keep my reputation or my societal commitments. Instead of being sorry, for such wretched souls who are doing harm, I would be better to take a step ahead to protect them, at least my own children.

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THAT OLD LADY WITH THE HUNCHBACK

We come across many helpless people in our lives. We see them, feel pity and move on, not because we are not sensitive, but because we don’t know them. We look at their sorry state, think about them, feel bad and angry simultaneously simply because we are unable to help them. We even thank God for being generous on us and not putting us in that situation.

There is one incident which I still remember and perhaps that was the first time when I felt sorry for someone. I must be in my early twenties. I was in a photo framing shop and was paying for my stuff when I noticed an old fragile woman with a hunchback, walking slowly into that shop. She waited for her turn as the shopkeeper was handling 2-3 customers at the same time. She asked for her photo lamination which she had ordered. He said, “That is not yet done.”

I covered a lot of distance to walk till here and you haven’t done the work”. The old woman said.

I will complete it today and you can come tomorrow to take it, I assure you.” The shopkeeper said.

The old woman sat there for a while as she must have been too tired to walk back. Meanwhile, I took the balance amount from the shopkeeper and returned home.

Throughout my way, I kept on thinking about her and questioning:

Why was she alone?

Why did no one from her family accompany her?

How could her family members send her alone?

Why did that stupid shopkeeper didn’t keep her order ready? My order could have waited, her order should have been priority. How could he didn’t sense this little thing?

I was full of anger, yet I couldn’t do anything. I felt so sorry for that old lady with the hunchback. Her family members didn’t have any empathy for her condition. I don’t know the reason behind her coming alone, but whatsoever may be the situation, I felt her children ought to have taken care of her and somebody should have accompanied her.

I feel sorry for those parents who nurtured their children with love and care, but as they grew old, they left them to be on their own. More than that, I feel sorry for those children.

I feel sorry for those who lose their loved ones. I feel sorry when I read news of the newborn girl child being killed by her cruel family members. I feel sorry for those who don’t realise the importance of love. I feel sorry for those who don’t love their country. I feel sorry for those who are too self-obsessed to cherish their relationships. Above all, I feel sorry for myself because I am not able to help them out!

WRONG DECISIONS OR WRONG PERCEPTION?

Today, I am going to share a story with all of you. It is story of one of my friend. I have known her from our Pre-University days. We stayed in a hostel to pursue our pre-university course. It was an all girls college, so we were at our luxury to do whatever we want but not breaking the rules of the college. Though most of us missed home, as days passed by we realised our parents are not going to succumb to our demands to move out of hostel. We enjoyed our two years of stay there and the bond we have made is as strong as the one’s we have with our own family.

Let’s call my friend Nidhi. Nidhi is very very pretty and a soft spoken girl. She has light brown colored eyes, almost of honey shade which added to her beautiful smile made her look gorgeous. There was a tinge of childishness in her. Her overall personality made us wonder how she would survive in this world. She graduated, got a job right after leaving college and was happy in her own world. Her parents arranged her marriage with a boy who is from their circle of friends. Her marriage invitation was not the only one that was grand, her wedding was a grandeur too. She looked very happy during the marriage. 

Marriages do not change friendship but they surely change the way we interact. Hour long calls prior to marriage become few minutes of interactions. The distance may not increase but there is some gap in communication with friends. Two years after her marriage, I accidentally met her on my commute one day. She looked pale with scars over her face. On asking, she said she met with a small accident a month ago. Casually I mentioned this conversation with another of my friend, who shared the truth with me. Seems Nidhi’s husband has been torturing her physically for sometime and also was the cause of her scars. Nidhi was admitted to hospital after surviving head injury from a bike accident. It was a deliberate act of her husband to hurt her. I wonder if he wanted to kill her.

I phoned her on an office working day so that I can talk to her. Her long list of problems in her marriage were way too much for one person to handle. Her husband used to beat her, also burn her on the skin using cigarette butts. Apart from the physical abuse, he also was insecure that she was having an affair. I did not even know how to react to her, but I encouraged her to file a compliant against him and that would be the first step to making her life better. She separated from her husband and is now fighting a case in the Honorable court of Law. 

So, what’s so bad about separating from her husband knowing he isn’t worth giving a chance? If you ask me, then my answer would be, no problem at all. But society does not see it in this way. In typical Indian households, woman who leave their husbands are considered bad women and have low tolerance levels. Many fellow women often say, “Every house hold has this problem. My husband isn’t a loving man either, did I not live with him? “. I fail to understand why they compare. Every one’s life is unique and so are their problems. If this is what society was discriminating her against, her parents felt they should be in sync with the society. 

Nidhi’s parents expressed their disinterest to support her in her marital matters. They were more worried about the repercussions of Nidhi’s seperation on Nidhi’s brother who is all set for marriage.  Her brother went to an extent to throw Nidhi out of the house declining her shelter. She moved to a paying guest accommodation and had to fight her depression all alone. Her parents stopped talking with her. What kind of a family does that? Many of her friends bothered the least to be with her. Some even said Nidhi made wrong decisions and is now suffering because of them. I wish I was in the same city as her which would have made it easier for me to support her. If parents, siblings, friends, relatives and society – everyone turn their backs, how is a person supposed to survive alone? Why is it so difficult for us to understand? Why don’t we let others live their lives? Poking our nose into other’s lives is a biggest problem in places where society domination is high.  Wrong decisions? How do we know if her decision was right or wrong? Ok, even if the decision was wrong, does that give us power to leave her to her fate? Why cannot we extend our gratitude? 

Nidhi is not alone. There are several groups for single women, single mothers, separated women, divorcees etc. Many of those women didn’t find support in their own families. I feel sorry for Nidhi and many others girls and women like her. Without an iota of doubt I am very well aware I cannot help everyone of them, though I wish I could. It saddens me when I talk with her. 

So, what’s going on with Nidhi now? Nidhi’s parents met with an accident, her mom passed away, her father is left bed ridden with spine injury. Nidhi is taking care of her father now as her brother has settled abroad. Some people are just too good at heart and unfortunately those people suffer the most. May be that’s just because they do not know how to deal with others they same way they dealt with them.

This week we are writing about feeling sorry for those who we cannot help. Do you have anyone in your life who you want to desperately help but cannot? Do you feel sorry for them?

WHY CHILD MARRIAGE?

I experienced a flavor of Child Marriage when I was teaching a bunch of kids as part of a volunteer’s team at my workplace. It was a college going girl not yet 18 years of age who was getting married. She was my student and quite a bright one.

I remember my conversations with her.

“What to do, ma’am? My parents are forcing me. He comes from a good family.”

“He is also earning well. My parents say that he will keep me happy. I think so too.”

“I have never met him but my brother says that he is a decent guy”

In all my conversations with her, all I could feel was that she was brainwashed to believe that this is supposed to be best that she can get. We tried getting in touch with her parents, trying to explain them why she needs to complete her education first and be independent first. But all in vain! She got married at 16 and I never heard from her again.

She did not get the wings to fly, a single chance to explore and build her own identity. Why? Because the guy is earning well and comes from a good family. Is that enough?

I was 22 when my parents started a groom search for me. And every time they found a guy who was earning well and comes from a good family – I would be haunted by it. I was quite over the permissible age of marriage and hence cannot really compare it with the child marriage but I was quite a child, not as mature to really know what marriage means and what companionship really is. I could have been easily molded into whatever my husband and his family wanted. I could have never been a person with my own opinions and aspirations. Eventually, I got married at 25 to the guy I loved and I still think that it was early.

Well, coming back to child marriage. I cannot imagine what a 15 year old girl would go through when she is married off to a guy who comes from a good family and is earning well. With a minimum level of education – she is totally at the will of her husband and his family. They can keep her happy like the queen of the house or they can make her a servant who is never paid. Either ways, it is a loss for her because it is not as per her own wish. Where was she given a chance to explore her own thoughts and build her identity on them?

I get shivers when I think how would she take off her clothes and be intimate with a man she hardly knows. To what levels she would have to surrender herself for the sake of her survival? Physically, financially, mentally and socially; in every aspect of her life she would only have to survive on her husband. What a pity? Why do we have to do this to our daughters?

Empowered individuals create empowered societies and cities and nations and world. Subjugating half the population of the world in the name gender is only going to pull the whole world down.

GIVE HER A CHANCE TO LIVE HER WILL

“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.” – Victor Hugo

It gave me immense pain when I was writing this down. When I was doing my personal study on the subject, ‘Abduction and Prostitution’ I was disturbed the entire day imagining the condition of the victims. The worst part, I can only sympathize with them not knowing the actual pain, and the tremendous torment they have to go through. One can never relate to the actual feelings unless one has gone through it! Imagine the uncountable cries that are either suppressed with strength or pretended to be unheard. Imagine the state where ones greatest asset (the body) is abused as an object of pleasure by others, out of their control, will or interest.  Imagine the endless mourning and lamenting of souls which does not ‘dare’ to expect any help in return. Imagine the state of minds where a normal decent life is just a far-fetched dream.  How grievous!

Burdened to note this down- there are 42 million prostitutes all around the world and up to 10 million are child prostitutes. Sex slavery is worst and highest in Asian countries. It is much popular among the young innocent girls who are abducted and forced into this trade of body at the expense of humanity. Young and old men prefer young and new girls. Today there is existence of kid porn where children and not adults are chosen for sexual exploitation. Seeing them dress up like older women in dark shades of cosmetics is a heartbreaking sight. But do these innocent girls have a choice? Girls who try to escape are beaten mercilessly with belt, sticks and iron rods. And hence the groveler is taken full advantage of.

No women in this world would ever choose this work of crud by her free will. She is either compelled by situations or entangled by wrong companies. Once trapped, it’s difficult to come out of this dark world. Darkness binds them completely, screening any trace of light that may try to enter. Chains of anguish, self-pity, abomination then binds her tightly in a never breaking manner.

I have no more strength to describe it any further. I am digressed. But I want to put up a question to my readers, “what are we doing about this issue?” Merely reading this article and commiserating isn’t going to help! Even we learned people don’t play our parts properly. We are busy living selfishly and ignoring the hands which are crushed even before they can ask for help. We accept this gloomy side of the society as if it were one of the levels of some inter-connected food chain, essential for the balance of communities. And since the fear of protest has always dominated us, we have a mega word for this today – CORRUPTION. I believe tolerating the wrong things is an equal crime. Through the generations, these corrupt practices have propagated and augmented, abandoning the victims of the true happiness which they deserve. We need to fight back! Even though our efforts may seem like taking out a bucket of water from the ocean, yet if the numbers of buckets are increased there will definitely be a remarkable change.

If you are aware of anyone, anywhere close to this realm of filthiness, play you part, make them aware, and put up a rebellious countenance! Let’s hope that our baby steps would one day sum up to make this world a better place.

OH BOY! IT’S A GIRL!

1st time in the labour room:-

Me: “Dr, what is it? I wanted a girl”

Doc: “Wait for 5 minutes.”

I apprehensively waited & the doctor said “It’s a boy”, showing me the baby.

My baby gender wish vanished the moment I saw my baby and held him in my arms.

Throughout my pregnancy, I kept praying for a girl. I didn’t like when anyone used to bless me saying, “Doodo nahao, puto falo”, which means may you bathe in milk and give birth to sons. In my heart I used to cry – why can’t people give blessings for a girl, why does it have to be ‘putravati bhava”?

When my son was born, most of the people said now that a boy is born first, I can sit back and relax. I kept telling them that being a female, I wanted a baby girl, not for any other reason, but fascinating about their endearing clothes, making their pretty hairdos, indulging in gossips when they grew older and all that.

2nd time in the labour room:-

I was pretty sure this time that it’s going to be girl. I bought some ‘pink’ stuff also. My 4.5 year old son and I were so confident that we named ‘her’ Zara.

The moment I heard my newborn cry, I sprang up to see and confirm if it’s a girl.

I shouted at my doc: “You delivered a boy, I wanted a girl!”

Doc: “I can take this baby in that case”.

Me: “No…It’s MY baby!” Everyone had a hearty laugh!

My husband and my cousin sisters were worried that I might go into depression because they knew how badly I wanted a girl and also planned accordingly. But, the sheer fact is that the moment you know you are carrying a life inside you, you fall in love with it, whether it’s a boy or girl.

However, the heart-rending truth remains that in many families, the male baby is given importance and that too at the cost of taking the lives of the newborn girls. Every time I read or watch any news of girl infanticide, I feel poignant and enraged.

How can anyone be so cruel and heartless to kill such a beautiful creation of God?

Instead of “Ladies first”, it’s “Males first” in our country. Even in today’s changing times, our society is so biased against the females. Many parents don’t believe in higher education for their girl child. Because of raucous boys, girls are restricted to go out after the dark, whereas the boys are born to roam freely anywhere anytime.

Even if a woman is working and earning equally as her husband, she is supposed to give her cent per cent towards her house and family members. A woman isn’t supposed to fall sick, whereas the entire house will be concerned if her husband has a headache.

And it doesn’t stop here; we have put restrictions on her during ‘those days’. She isn’t supposed to offer her prayers, just because she has got her periods. My mother used to say, “Why restrict when this is also a part of the nature?” True, if God isn’t biased, so why are you!

Times are changing. Our generation has been able to mould a lot of things, but still a lot needs to be done. The other day my son told me,”Cars are for boys”. I immediately corrected him, “If a girl likes to play with cars, she can. No toy is girl or boy specific, just like you play with your kitchen set, a girl can play with cars as well.” I keep telling him that girls are equally strong as boys.

She is the creator, the core of all relations;

She makes the world a living place with her emotions;

Everything is just beautiful when she is around;

She can do wonders, why do you frown?

Don’t cut her wings, you will cry;

For she is as good as a boy.

Let her live, give her a chance;

Else, without her we will go into trance.

GROOM ON SALE!

“Rakhungi naino huzoor, Laado ko main dur na dungi
Bangla bhi dungi, aji Motor bhi dungi
Sona to dungi zaroor, Laado lo main dur na dungi”

My granny used to sing this song when she was overwhelmed with love for me; I would be sitting in her lap, thinking WOW! Someday I will get married, and granny would give me so many things, but not get me married far off. This is the psychology of most Indian parents. They are ready to shower the groom and his family in all the riches but want to see their daughter’s happiness at any cost. But sadly, more often than not, the exact opposite happens. Instead of buying her the love of her husband and in-laws, they buy her misery, torture, pain, exploitation, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.

Usually, when we hear any case of dowry killing, burning of newlywed brides, etc., we curse the in-laws, call them names, do some tut tut, and then sympathise with the girl’s parents. But has anyone ever thought that they are no less guilty and involved in her death than her in-laws? Yes, Indian parents often start to think daughter as a burden right from her birth (which often leads to infanticide) because they know that at the time of her marriage they will be expected to give a hefty amount as dowry, which means lifelong struggle and even after she is wed they won’t be free from financial pressure.

Parents often come to know that the groom’s party is greedy right before marriage but decide to fulfil their demands in the name of honour and custom. After marriage they again come to know that their daughter is being harassed by in-laws, and yet again they try to satisfy the greed of the son-in-law, telling the daughter to keep quiet as well, as things will get better with time. The final act of her murder is committed when she comes back to them, seeking shelter and refuge, but instead of letting her know that they are there for her and won’t let her suffer more, they send her back to her in-laws in the name of society and humiliation. The result; they lose their daughter forever.

If the same amount of money that was spent in her dowry was spent in her higher education that was denied to her, she might have lived and lived happily. In the form of education, they could have handed her the weapons to fight any exploitation. They could have made her a self-dependent, self-respecting and self-sufficient individual. But sadly no, the ultimate destination for any girl in India is marriage. In other words, if she is married, living in her husband’s house, has kids, she is HAPPY! No one bothers to know if her husband beats her if she in-laws have turned her into maid without pay if she is standing on the precipice of insanity or suicide.

22292A total of 24,771 dowry deaths has been reported in the country in past three years which means 22 deaths per day and nearly one dowry death every hour. And often she is given the most painful and gruesome death; she is burnt alive.

Would you believe me if I tell you that dowry originated to protect the women? Earlier in India the British Raj prohibited women from having any rights over property, it meant that all her inheritance from parents would be given to the husband, this was the way parents gave her, her dues. The girl’s parents would give her enough land, jewellery, etc. to enable her to have an income of her own as well as assets in times of adversity. Soon it took the form of greed from the groom’s side wherein the marriage became a financial deal instead of a relation.

Today the sacred union called marriage has been reduced to the mere financial transaction; it has become just another business deal where grooms are on display, and the bride’s parents are the purchasers. The higher the degree of the boy, the higher the dowry. But the sad part is, even after paying the asked price, the buyers make a lost deal.

Now if you come to hypocrisy, We are the most skilful hypocrites in the world. All of us are experts at practising virtue at a distance. On first encounter every boy’s father invariably remarks – ‘we don’t need anything. Whatever you give is your choice. It will be after all a gift to your daughter. The demand is never openly made. Someone from groom’s family will innocuously ask about items being given to the bride so that they will not purchase the same for the bride’s room in their house. “What will be the point in duplicating the purchase of a Television, fridge, washing machine, play station, double bed, dressing table, safe, decorative items, modular kitchen, car, etc.? It would be better if the monetary value of these items is calculated and cash is given to groom to purchase items of his liking.” It’s like a naming a ceremony, replace the word “Dowry” with ” father’s gift to his daughter”.

For the sake of materialistic possessions, a woman is treated far worse than one would treat his animal. If I begin to tell you that in how many ways a woman is tortured, you will be amazed that god’s most beautiful creation, given the status of a goddess is subjected to such inhumanity. They will do just about anything to vent out their anger on her, break her will, drive her to suicide, and if she is strong enough not to commit that sin, they incinerate her. Starvation p, marital rape, imprisonment within the house, physical violence, denying her access to her children, taunting, demoralising, threatening, abusing them in front of people, suspending all social interaction and not allowing her to meet her parents.

b24f7c083ec4c102a481a8e4e360ebf1.jpgThe Indian penal court has clearly stated that giving and taking of dowry is a punishable crime under section 304B, that anybody found guilty of this crime will be convicted to punishment, whereas the cases of dowry death will be given minimum seven years of jail time to probably life time imprisonment. This custom is covertly but widely practised all over the country. In fact, it’s being consumed that this law might be altered as it is found that in 10% of cases, it’s being misused by women.

Marriage is the celebration of love. GREED has to be removed out of the equation. Let’s all take the Dowry Pledge.

1. If you happen to be a boy, DO NOT demand dowry. If your family happens to be the sorts who would, please make it clear that you do not wish to be part of something as lowly as THIS, in the name of tradition.
2. If you happen to be a girl, DO NOT agree to marry into a family that demands dowry. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘family demanding dowry’. The boy is the part of the family and if he wants he can put his foot down and disagree to any dowry being demanded from the girl’s side. If he isn’t doing that, show him the door. He is not worth it. If he can’t stand up for something right at this moment, he won’t play in the future as well.
3. If you happen to be the girl’s parents, DO NOT marry your daughters into a family that gives or takes dowry in any form. File a complaint against the family who makes a dowry demand – Ok. You have rejected the marriage proposal from the household who demanded dowry. Do not keep quiet. Your complaint may save an innocent from being harassed or burned to death.
4. If you happen to be the innocent onlooker, DO NOT be part of that wedding, boycott it. Say “I will not attend or support weddings where I am aware that dowry and extravagant gifts have been demanded and given.”

A father can give no bigger gift than his daughter, a piece of his heart.

Remember, Dowry Isn’t Gift!