This must be one of my most heartfelt posts ever. Here I am telling a story. A story of a daughter and her parents. A story of love and a story of profound loss. Without any more elaboration, let me move on to the story.
The time and place of this story has no importance. The names too have little relevance. From the days of 'Othello' this story perhaps has been told and retold a million times over. Not very long ago, there lived a man called Shiva. He used to work for a financial firm. He was married to Sanjana, a home-maker. They had a beautiful and intelligent daughter who was called Renuka. She was fondly called 'Azhagaana Raakshasi' by the near and dear ones.
She was a very caring and helping kid and grew up with all the affection and attention of her parents and relatives. In between, Sanjana became pregnant the second time. They did not want to continue the pregnancy and wanted to abort because they wanted to give all that they had to their daughter. But their family Doctor advised against that. Thus the Doctor chose to name the boy 8 years younger to his sister after his best friend, Sripathi.
They were not a very well to do family. But the parents always gave more importance to the daughter and the son went to free school while she studied at private school. Within their capabilities, they gave the kids a very good life. All of their life was spent in keeping the kids, especially the daughter happy.
Renuka completed her graduation and joined Post-graduate course and also began working for Chartered Accountancy. In between, marriage alliances were pouring in. But the family Doctor, who was more than just a Doctor to the family vetoed marriage and advised the parents to get the girl educated and make her self-reliant. The girl was happy and everyone was happy.
Love is the most Beautiful feeling in the world until it happens to your daughter !
And then came the earth-shattering day. A middle aged man and a woman came calling asking for the girl's hand in marriage for their son. There were several issues here. The boy was from another community. He was almost a decade older to her. He had bouts of Alcohol addiction and delinquent behavior in the past. He was not good looking by conventional standards. The final part of the complaint list was that he was working in the middle east for not very flattering remuneration. But in spite of all this, the boy was confident of looking after the girl well.
It was always believed that Renuka was a sensible girl. But she confirmed her affair and wanted to marry that boy. Now the parents came knocking at the family Doctor's door. It was after all infatuation of a teenaged girl everyone thought. The affair had been going on for over 4 years which meant she was not even 16 when it all began.
Weighing all pros and cons, the Doctor took the girl to his home and held series of heart to heart talk with her. Explaining all the risks of the affair, he managed to convince the girl out of the mess. She appeared to have understood what was told and agreed to retrace without much of a resistance. She conveyed to the boy over the phone, her decision to part ways.
The negatives of this marriage were kept threadbare before her. The social and cultural difference. The difference in educational qualification. The colossal mismatch when it came to looks and age. All these issues could work against a happy life according to Renuka's parents and relatives.
Their worries were not unfounded. They were also worried about her ending up in a Gulf country with no chance to work. Even if she got a chance to work, she perhaps would have to live in a Burqa. But the worst fears were about the boy with previous history of Alcohol problem developing inferiority complex due to a much younger, extremely beautiful and better qualified wife and thus the life going into a tailspin.
Good proposals were always chasing the girl and it was almost decided that she would be marrying a handsome Software Engineer working at Bangalore and even she consented. She looked happy and didn't show any signs of remorse or betrayal.
On that fateful Saturday morning, the boy came with his sister, brother in law and friends and literally dragged the girl away with him. The girl actually had never given up on him but was just biding her time. She pushed her parents and went away with her lover and was married him the same day with the photographs adorning Facebook wall before dusk.
In a Mills and Boon story or in a Cinema, this would have been 'The End' with 'They lived happily ever after' ingrained on a picture postcard. But life works in a different way. There are no intervals, no retakes and no song and dance sequences in the Alps. In life, the story only begins with marriage. It doesn't end. So what did this moment of madness leave behind ?
Twenty years of protection, love, affection and care weighed for absolutely nothing when she pushed her mother away, snapped her hands from her father's grip and eloped. Fearing retaliation and attempts to take her back, the boy took her to another city 5 hours away and married her there. What did the girl's parents do ?
The mother cried for help. The father ran behind her till the car even as they pushed him away from the speeding car. The mother fainted and then people gathered. Advises came in galore. Lodging a Police complaint and going and trying to capture her from Registration office were some of the suggestions. But the Doctor said, "She is almost 21. She has not been kidnapped but gone on her own wish. So there she goes. We can do nothing and we should do nothing. Let her go. It is her life, she will decide from here onwards".
After fours days, what is the situation at ground zero today ? The mother is still sobbing, little realizing the fact that the little girl she brought up had grown up and fled. She still is not able to eat anything without puking. She can't sleep even with sleeping pills. Her father has developed high blood pressure and his sugar shot up. He refuses to go for a check up. The little brother is so shattered, he doesn't even want to talk about her.
Their world has come down crashing. The parents are today, practically two dead bodies living like refugees in a relative's house because they are scared to go home. That home which brought back the fond memories of their little girl and that house which reminded them of the trauma of their daughter pushing them away like strangers.
Without really going into the merits or demerits of love marriage vs arranged marriage; the moot point here is, "Should she have been so cruel, so drastic and so heartless ?". Love stories look beautiful on celluloid and digitally mastered disks. But in real life, they leave many an individuals shattered.
The role of love and the progressive disdain for religions, hierarchy and caste system are fine indeed for a maturing society. But when a 20 year old and still immature girl elopes with an overtly mismatched boy, how can the parents be happy ? How can anyone related to the girl be comfortable ?
Everyone wishes all good things for the wedded couple. Nobody wants to curse them. This Blogger who also happens to be the family Doctor in the story has watched and seen many love stories and even played supporting role in some of those happy endings. But this is one story where he was with the parents and not with the love-lorn couple. The reasons have already been discussed.
Seeing a completely shattered pair of parents who don't even know how they are going to live their life is really painful. They have lost their urge to live. The little boy is the only reason they haven't committed suicide. The mother finally opened up last night when she said, "12 years ago, if you had not stopped us from aborting the boy, we would have been dead by now. But for the fear of leaving him a complete orphan, we wouldn't have made it past that Saturday night !"
The pain is infectious, insufferable and looks insurmountable !
Why and how could she become so ungrateful and selfish ?
This Blogger waits for the time to heal their wounds !