I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. The story I am attempting to write is not about just one ‘Asha’, but many like her in our society. The trauma and heartbreak her parents go through has been experienced by many more such helpless parents. This story highlights the issue of dowry demands and domestic violence in our society. Today’s post is the last chapter of her story.
Today’s prompt is Heart Prints
Links to the first seven parts of the story are given below. Do read these before reading today’s story as it is a continuation. Don’t miss out on crucial twists and turns of the story.
‘Mumma, I want a camera for my birthday. I want to become a photographer when I grow up.’
‘Asha, last week you wanted to be a journalist and now this. You are only 10 years old, by the time you are 18 you’d have changed your mind many times.’
‘No, I am sure of it. I want to be a photographer. A journalist needs good pictures for her story.’
‘Okay baba, I will ask your father if he thinks this is a good idea.’
‘No, I want a promise from you that you will get me a camera.’ Asha started tickling her mother. ’Promise me, promise me…’
‘I promise. I promise. I promise…’ Uma was laughing uncontrollably and tears of mirth were rolling down her cheeks.
A call in the middle of the night had Uma and her husband scrambling out of bed and driving towards their daughter’s home at breakneck speed. Uma knew that something bad had happened to Asha, she just knew it.
There was a police jeep outside the gate and Asha’s in-laws were standing in a corner arguing with the police inspector. Vilas appeared to be giving a statement to another inspector out in the hall. Asha’s body lay forlorn and neglected in the middle of the room, covered in a white bed sheet.
Uma nearly fainted on seeing her daughter’s still body. She screamed and fell down next to her baby. Asha’s father looked shocked and his trembling legs gave way, he ended up next to his bawling wife.
Apparently, some neighbor had heard loud screaming and yelling going on in Vilas’s house for sometime late in the night, before he called up the police.
The police inspector found Vilas and his parents behaving very suspiciously on seeing them. Vilas started crying, ‘Sir, my wife has committed suicide. Please help me bring her body out of the bathroom.’
Asha lay on the floor of the bathroom; a hair dryer was lying next to her. She appeared to have been electrocuted. The many faded and fresh bruises on her body alerted the police to some wrongdoing on her husband’s part. It was always the same story; the bride found dead at her in-laws in mysterious circumstances, the in-laws pleading their innocence and the parents of the bride refuting their claim.
Vilas was crying loudly and pulling at his hair. His parents also were sobbing softly but their eyes kept darting from the body to the policemen examining it.
After taking down their statements and pictures of Asha’s body, the police let them take their daughter home. Uma rode in the ambulance with Asha. Her husband followed in the car with their driver.
Tears welled up in Uma’s eyes; tears of anguish, regret and also of anger. Her wrath was directed towards her daughter’s husband and in-laws. She knew they had killed her for not giving in to their repeated demands of bringing money from her father’s house for her greedy in-laws and her gambler husband.
The sight of the bruises on Asha’s face and arms made Uma wince in pain. How much she must have suffered during the beatings. Why didn’t I see beyond the facade? Why didn’t I hear her hesitation when asked if she was happy in her new home? Did I deliberately ignore the warning signs? Am I to blame too?
Uma could remember promising her daughter, Asha, that she would look after her and see to it that she came to no harm. Uma blamed herself. She had failed miserably and was feeling guilty as hell.
They cremated their daughter in the afternoon; Uma and her husband lit the funeral pyre together. Uma vowed to get justice for her Asha. This became her reason to survive now.
She looked at her husband who was sitting quietly by the window with Asha’s picture in his hands.
‘Do you think this was an accident? Is Asha…was Asha so irresponsible that she would use a hair dryer while standing on the wet bathroom floor? And what about all the bruises on her body, some were faded but a few were very recently made.
Two nights ago when she had called up to wish me on my birthday, she’d sounded tired and sad. I should have realized something was wrong. And when I’d mentioned the Nikon camera I was thinking of getting for her birthday gift, she’d said something very odd.’ “Mummy, you don’t know the kind of lenses I need so don’t bother going shopping for the camera, just send me the money ( 1.5 lakh ) and I will buy it myself.”
‘I should’ve known my Asha would never make such an insensitive remark, it was Vilas making her say it. He needed the money to feed his gambling addiction and he killed her for not bringing in the money for it. I am going to do right by my daughter. We let her down badly.’
‘ Uma, please think before taking this step. Our daughter is dead and nothing will bring her back.’
‘I know she is gone, they made sure of that. Their greed and frustration resulted in her death and I cannot let her murderers go scot free’.
Uma had made copies of the list of items they had given as gifts to Vilas and his parents during the wedding. There were copies of the receipts too, for the jewellery they had made for their darling daughter Asha’s wedding to Vilas. She gave all this to the police and hired a lawyer to fight their case.
After repeated hearings, continuations, fresh dates, change of judges, justice finally prevailed. The courts found Vilas and his parents guilty of murdering Asha. Vilas was sentenced to be imprisoned for life while his parents were awarded a minimum sentence of seven years.
The dowry system is thought to put great financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, the dowry system leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional abuse, injury to even deaths.The payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws including, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code. ( Source )
19 thoughts on “Heart Prints #writebravely”
What an end to this story!! Made me teary. Social pressure makes our parents ignore the signs. i have seen that people of my parent’s generation are aghast at having a divorced daughter. But, really, better to be divorced than dead. There has to be a way out for the poor girls. I also liked it that Asha’s mother pursued the case and sent Vilas and his family behind the bars. It was a hard hitting story.
Lata, society is cruel when it comes to divorced women and the poor parents bend pressure. Times are changing now but we have a long way to go. I wanted the mother to take the lead in getting the criminals punished. thanks for your lovely comment.
Sad that Asha couldn’t survive but happy that Uma fought for justice. Well written Sulekha.
Ramya, thanks a ton.
Oh no! This had to happen after all that she was going through. You know Sulekha, the whole idea of letting the daughter go on a doli and then leaving the world after death from husband’s house has killed so many women. Most times it’s the parents who are to be blamed cos they infuse the ‘har ghar mein aisa hota hai’ thought.
I’m so glad that they fought the case. I lost a cousin to domestic mental abuse and my relatives chose to not fight the battle. I still wish they had.
Parul, so sorry for your loss. It takes a lot of courage to go against the society and its twisted logic.Hopefully times are changing now and more and more parents are realizing the importance of speaking up against their daughters’ abusers. Marriage is a bond between two people who care for each other and respect their wishes. It is not a master-slave bond.
I am running short of words, Sulekha. The sad ending was already revealed in the beginning, yet I felt terrible to learn how Asha died. There are many many such deaths in our society. Dowry has changed into gifts and people are forced to give them. But at what price, that the bride’s parents never think. You have woven the words so wonderfully that it did left an impression on my mind. I hope every parent who reads this would feel the same and would stop asking and giving dowry/gifts. Happiness can never be bought, not even for our daughters’ married life.
Vinitha, thank you for your beautiful comment on my writing. It is my hope too that someone reads it and makes the right choice.
Social stigmas lead parents to be blind/deaf/dumb while the poor girl sufferes. When I wanted a divorce, my parents kept pressurizing me to reconsider and not do it as what will society say? Not once did they ask me am I happy? What is wrong? They were all for sweeping everything under the rug! I am so proud of myself to have stood up to it all and seen it till the end despite the fact that neither of my parents supported me in this.
I wish Asha’s parents too would have seen their daughter’s plight instead of ignoring it to keeep the society happy
Shalini, hats off to you for standing up to the wrongdoers and taking timely action.In our society the poor parents are still brainwashed from their earlier days into thinking that a girl’s home is her husband’s house till she dies. They are afraid to go against the social norms, even pay a heavy price for their actions. My heart goes out to all those suffering and affected by this. Thank you for being brave.
Good Asha’s parents fought and got justice. She should have spoken to them earlier so that she would still be alive. Only when we ignore small signals do we pay a bigger price.
Nupur, it is true but sometimes the emotions are so entangled that unravelling takes time.
How very sad is this. Right up to the end she was trying to protect her parents from her harsh reality. How very sad. That the perpetrators were brought to justice is small consolation. The parens will never get back their daughter.
Tulika, hope this doesn’t happen to any other girl and her parents.We need to spread the message that giving gifts is also another form of dowry and parents must refrain from overspending on their children’s marriages. Educate your children and teach them to differentiate between right and wrong, all will be well then. Fingers crossed.
How I wish she had left her husband’s house long ago, she would have been alive and living a better life!
Sad that such an end had to come to a life like Asha’s.
Very well narrated, Sulekha! My heart wept with Asha each time she fell victim to her husband’s harassment!
I almost cried reading this! How I wish she could be saved. It is good that her mother took up her cause and fought for justice. Loved your narration.
Reema, thank you for your lovely comment.
Sulekha, how beautifully you have managed to pen down the emotions, the life and helplessness of Asha and her family.In just eight chapters you succeeded in making us a part of her family. One can visualize and go through the ordeal of the family. It seems so real. It was like watching a movie. Please do keep writing more and more. It’s such a pleasure reading your stories. They are straight from the heart. Love you dear.
Mona, your comment made me feel warm all over. There is no higher praise for a writer than this, thank you for making me feel so good about my writing. Such comments make me want to write more stories. God bless.