The time it happened it was already one year in the organization. I was completing my Fellowship. My Job was going great and I was looking for other aspects of life when I met her in one official meeting. She was from Karnataka. She was quiet most of the time but attentive. She was not much interested in getting along with the group. It was me who initiated the conversation and after two days we were spending evenings together.
Shopping with her really helped me to work on my patience, she was not shopaholic neither use to spend too much. Her preferences were mostly small ‘thela walas’ or locally made ornaments and clothes but she use to go to each one of them till the end of the lane and see every item carefully. I think this was one of her best aspects exploring things but not getting attracted to the pomp and show of market.
Within next few months we were in relationship. As it was long distance one, most of our time was spent on phone after office hours explaining our daily incidents. I won’t say we were satisfied but I will accept that feeling of it was different from everything else. We use to wait for each other’s calls. Things began to move slowly. Whenever we use to have hard day we use to share it and believe me listening to each other was like the best part of our lives. We use to make lots of plans for our next meetings and I will accept we began to look for excuses to attend certain events of our organization where we both could come. Many time it happened that we participated in such events which were totally not related to our roles I still find them worthy and if I have to do it all over again I will do it. Days passed and it was now almost a year.
We decided to tell our parents about each other and if possible ask their permission to get together. This part of our life was the actual hurdle. As in my family new generation already took initiative to break the boundaries of caste, so for me I just had to follow the path. But her family was very traditional and rigid in that term.
She use to share her discussions and conflicts with family about our relationship nearly every day. After certain period it became really hard for us to talk about her family. I still remember she use to ask me why her family and relatives have suddenly started disliking her. She use to tell me about how everybody has started commenting on her every activity, how relatives have started taunting her. Often she cried over phone. Question in our mind was that is it wrong to make our life choices. Why families want their children to do exactly what they want. It is the question for many children in this country.
Days were passing. One day she asked me to talk to her aunt. She told me that aunt supports her. I called her aunt. After greetings she directly asked me about my caste. I said whatever my caste is does that matters? She said yes it is the only thing what matters. I asked, “Is it really the only thing what matters” then she said no she also wants to know how much I earn. I said aunt I will answer all your questions, please explain why these two things matter so much. Is it not important what kind of person I am? Do I have bad habits? Am I violent or abusive or selfish? Do I love the girl? Will I keep her happy? Why caste and money matters so much. Hearing this she started talking to me in calm manner. She said these things are important. But what will we tell our community where caste is the most important thing. Money is important because her (my girlfriend) family his having some trouble in money matters and they want her to be husband to be stable so that he can support them. I was totally clueless.
I began to think about the priorities of people while getting their children married. As I was desperate to convince her, so that she can support us I told her about my salary and my caste which was definitely not as per her expectations.
This experience of my life left so many questions in front of me to ponder over. Many of those questions gave me sleepless nights. Is it really true that parents love their children the most? Then what is the definition of love in our society? I began to pay attention to all the incidents related to love and marriage in our society.
Well, that conversation ended and I can tell our last hope too. But still we had faith and love for each other. I kept trying. One day she told me that she is going to her village for some local festival. It was a common thing for me. But next day I tried her number and her phone was off. After two days I received a call from her, she was crying. My heart sank and I began to prepare myself for some misshaping. She said that she got engaged yesterday. I was shocked. I asked how that happened. She narrated the incident which I am putting in her words here – “The day she went to her village everybody in her family was good to her. They were preparing for celebration. She thought it is because of festival. Next day in the morning she was asked to get ready, which was usual for such occasion. Around 12.00 PM some relatives and other people came to their house. In those people she recognized one person. He was the guy who came few days back to see her for marriage. She immediately understood what was happening. She denied to get ready and come out of her room. Then her parents entered her room and began to force. They got into a heated argument. After some time of argument and discussion her father went out and brought a glass of water and poured some liquid into it. Showing her he said if you did not get ready I will drink this and after my death you can marry whoever you want.
I didn’t know how to tackle this. I never prepared myself for anything like this. Till today I keep asking myself can parents be really that ruthless to their children. What should I call this? Where should I put this in terms of social behavior? In last few months whatever I heard in news, from friends and other sources about the incidents of couple’s committing suicide, honor killing, couples getting beaten up everything began to go through my mind.
That was the last call from her. After two days her phone went off. I got the news from another colleague that within 15 days of her engagement she left the job and within one month she got married. Her social networking accounts got deactivated. But after three months I received a call. It was her she asked about me. I had no answer because for me it did not matter anymore. She said that she does not want to live with this guy. She said he is also very conservative and he was the one who forced her to leave the job and deactivate all the social networking accounts. We talked for some time. Then I asked her not to call me again. She asked me why, I said “I have no answer for it, doesn’t matters how much I want to talk to you but it’s just that I don’t feel it right”.
After this call for next few months I stopped picking up unknown numbers and eventually calls stopped. But since then I am trying to understand “What is marital rape?”