The Masked Honor
The Masked Honor10 mins 233 10 mins 233
"Papa, they are asking you to come now." Rahul with a fading tone said looking at his father.
A bunch of media journalists had set up their cameras in the hall for an interview of Divakar Thakur.
Divakar raised his forehead, looked scarcely to his son Rahul standing at the door, and hummed "Hmmm.."
His lower eyelids were being swollen after days of being drenched. Eyes were still shedding tears like a never-ending cataract and those teardrops were dripping off from his upper lips channeling through fading huge dark circles.
He then grabbed the white towel left to him on the bed. Wiped those tears out and took a long breath. Placing the towel back on its place he pushed the bed lazily to stand.
"Come with me," Divakar whispered to Rahul with a deep tone.
Five journalists were sitting in the hall with two cameras and five mics pointing towards a single wooden chair.
"Sir, please come and sit here." Pointing towards the wooden chair one of the journalists said to Divakar.
Rahul rushed towards the chair pulled it back a bit and said, "Papa, sit."
Divakar looked at those journalists and slowly stepped ahead towards the chair allocated for him.
Rahul after comforting his father perished from camera reach. He walked all the way towards the back of journalists and stood facing his father.
"Sir. If you are ready then shall we start?" one of the journalists asked Divakar
Pausing for a moment Divakar replied, "Yes. Please go ahead."
"Sir, before we start, our heartfelt condolence with you and your family for your daughter Miss Rakshi's untimed demise." A journalist among five condemned.
A minute of silence ruled over.
"Sir, the news is spreading as Miss Rakshi committed suicide. Do you believe in this statement" Breaking the silence, a journalist asked.
"No, she cannot commit suicide this is definitely fake news." Divakar rumbled loud.
"What according to you then must be the reason behind the death of Miss Rakshi?" the other journalist asked with no time gap.
"They killed my daughter. They killed my daughter." Divakar broke down echoing his own words twice.
"Who killed?" the same journalist cross-questioned after pausing for a moment.
"Her husband, her in-laws they all killed my innocence daughter." Wiping out his tear Divakar screamed.
"Why would they do that? What do you think must be their motive behind?" a journalist who was silent all these times asked with a very polite voice.
"They are leeches, money hunger with no humanity." Divakar cried loud with deep sorrow.
"Do you mean there is dowry involved in this case? Were they demanding any dowry post marriage?" the same journalist took no time to reverberate.
"Yes! her husband used to beat her for not bringing a car on dowry. Her in-laws used to taunt her for this as well. They all killed my daughter." Divakar started shedding tears in front of the camera.
"Had you given any dowry during or before marriage?" the other journalist asked with a very numb voice.
"Yes! they demanded five lakhs and a car. We could only give them 5 lakhs. I had also given rest all household things along with. I didn't know was sending my daughter to a devil's den" with a trembling voice Divakar delivered.
"Sir, how many years it's been to marriage?" the same journalist asked.
Divakar broke down gravely with a loud voice that one could hear him from the outside of the house.
"I'm sorry it's been only 8 months to the marriage of my Didi." Rahul from behind answered this with tearful eyes.
"Excuse me. I have to take Papa away from here. Give me a minute I will come back for any further questions." Rahul added stepping closure to Divakar.
"Papa, come." Holding the shoulders of his dad Rahul said politely.
Divakar stood up and started walking towards the room of Rakshi.
"Papa, you better sit in this room." Pointing towards Divakar's own room Rahul urged.
"No, Leave me for a moment" Divakar replied with a trembling voice.
With sluggish steps, he reached the door of Rakshi's room. He could barely stand. With his shivering hand, he succeeded to gather possible strength to push the door to open.
With the open door, his eyes went straight onto the bed inside the room where once he used to sing lullabies to Rakshi to make her sleep. His lips started trembling and eyes started flooding with tears.
"I am sorry Maa, I could not save you. I am sorry Maa.." He buzzed loud with an apologetic tone.
Reaching the bed he bent over to touch the bedsheet laying on the bed. Few drops of tears through his cheeks dropped on the pink teddy bear printed cotton bedsheet to drench it.
"I am sorry Maa" Divakar whispered to self.
A black diary under the pillow on bed grabbed Divakar's eye. He lifted the pillow up to grab that in hurry. Holding the diary in hand he comforted himself on the bed. His inner sense pushed him so hard to turn over and discover it's every page.
With trembling hands, he finally turned the first page. "MY DESIRE" with red ink and in capital letters, the very first page of the diary read within a quotation. Spreading his fingers across the page he took a quick deep feel of the word. Divakar then turned the next page to find a pencil sketch of a home and on top of it inside a call-out cloud written: "Happily together." Looking at it he could barely control his emotions any longer. His jaws started shivering and his eyes turned red like burning lava.
He quickly started turning the next few pages with excitement to discover more. The next few pages were blank with no spot of ink. He finally reached on page 10, after 9 blank pages this was the first page filled with words. Divakar started reading them.
I am sure you'll find a much richer, probably much better good-looking guy for me but the culture in which you brought me up never said to emphasize more on money and appearance.
After you, if I felt such comfortable with any man around it was him. You may succeed to get me an expensive life but I'll fail to get a happy life.
Dad, I would not be able to speak this in front of you. I shy and in fact I afraid.
"What if you feel hurt?"
"what if you don't understand my feelings? And what if I fail to convey my feelings in a proper way?"
You know Dad, I always run blank in front of you.
It was not a love at first sight. Mere appearance never succeeds to attract my eyes. He was unique among all, magical and an owner of a divine heart. It was our mutual likes, dislikes, hobbies, and thoughts that brought both of us together. I felt almighty is blessing me through his friendship. When our mere likes turned into Love for each other we never realized.
You know Dad, he is a great devotee of Lord Krishna and has a prodigious interest in mythology. I had never seen a man of this generation with such an ancient heart before I met him.
I spend a number of hours thinking, if I'll introduce him with Mom, she'd definitely love him. My mind even portrays scenarios where he and mom both are arguing on a single mythological character. I smile and I laugh.
If I take Mom's care, her divine thoughts, and your strength and determination to protect me, I'd probably get him as an outcome.
The past few months I spent were a rollercoaster ride. I was being emotionally drained, many situations happened around me which made me weaker. That was the time he came as a guardian angel out of nowhere to save me from all traumas. He indeed succeeded to make me believe in "This life is a blessing in disguise." I was then stronger and happier than never before.
But Dad, the situation has changed. I failed miserably to convey his authenticity and depth of our emotional bonding to all of you. In a situation to opt for you and him, I would not even question my mind. Blindfold me and I'd still choose you.
Dad, your little daughter would always stay little for you. I'd blindfold myself, wouldn't even utter a single word against your decision. End of the day to keep your head high, to enhance your reputation, to respect our tradition I'd fake my smile, I'd fake my "Yes".
Yes! I'll sacrifice my emotions, my happiness today, tomorrow, and forever in respect of your words and for your happiness.
Seeing me in a rich and sophisticated family you'd definitely feel proud. Obviously, that would enhance your image in society. But Dad, I'd die gradually every day thinking of all those promises I've made to him. The Guiltiness of betrayal would gradually take my breath away.
I'd still beg to God to give me a Dad like you in my every birth.
I Love you Dad.
Your little Angel.
Reading these two pages unfold letter of Rakshi, Divakar broke into pieces. He hugged tight to the diary with both of his hands crossing each other and yelled loudest within. A sense of guiltiness made him suffocate.
One-year earlier, Divakar enforcing his patriarchy had denied strictly to accept Rakhi's love relationship. Rakshi was screaming, crying, and falling under the feet of every family member every now, and then yet, Divakar was swimming in the ocean of so-called society carrying fake reputation, respect, and ego on back.
"You have two options in hand. Family or that bastard you have chosen." Divakar was very much strong on his words then.
Rakshi, after months of struggle, had to quit her stubbornness and marry the son of the neighbour village's landlord to protect the image of her father Divakar.
The landlord's family were very wealthy yet as they say "Rich looks after money and a poor looks after heart."
Honor killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The main reason for these crimes is a result of people marrying without their family's acceptance, especially when it is between members of two different castes or religious groups, or, more particular to northwestern India, between members of the same gotra, or exogamous clan.
In 2015 National Crime Records Bureau data shows, 251 honor killings were reported in India.
Madhu Kishwar, a professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, claims that only 2% to 3% honor killings are related to gotra killings by the khap or caste panchayats, rest are done by the families.
Tamil Nadu has had 192 cases of honor killings, most relating to marriages between a woman higher in the caste hierarchy than the man she marries. These marriages in particular are considered "dishonorable" since the women of the caste are responsible for its continuation, by having children. According to Kathir of anti-caste group Evidence, "There is this firm belief that if I get my daughter married to someone of my own caste, I have succeeded in safeguarding it. And if not, one's prestige is challenged, and then there is barbaric anger.
Some real incidents:
In 2000 Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu (nicknamed Jassi), a Canadian Punjabi who married rickshaw driver Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu (nicknamed Mithu) against her family's wishes, was brutally murdered in India following orders from her mother and uncle in Canada so that "the family honor was restored". Her body was found in an irrigation canal. Mithu was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die, but survived.
In 2016, Chinnaswamy, a member of the Thevar community dominant in the southern part of the state, ordered the killing of his daughter Kausalya and her husband Shankar, belonging to the Dalit Pallar community. The crime, taking place at Udumalpet Bus station, was caught on video with Shankar hacked to death in broad daylight, while his wife barely escaped alive. The accused in the case were at first sentenced to death, but later Chinnaswamy was ruled "not guilty" and the other killer's sentences were reduced.
In June 2012, a man chopped off his 20-year-old daughter's head with a sword in Rajasthan after learning that she was dating men.
A 16-year-old girl, Imrana, from Bhojpur who was set on fire inside her house in a case of what the police called 'moral vigilantism'. The victim had screamed for help for about 20 minutes before neighbors arrived, only to find her smouldering body. She was admitted to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries.
In May 2008, Jayvirsingh Bhadodiya shot his daughter Vandana Bhadodiya and struck her on the head with an ax. In March 2010, the Karnal district court ordered the execution of five perpetrators of an honor killing and imprisoning for life the khap (local caste-based council) chief who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli (19), a man and woman of the same gotra who eloped and married in June 2007. Despite having been given police protection on court orders, they were kidnapped; their mutilated bodies were found a week later in an irrigation canal.
We as a society, where are we heading? If happiness comes with the cost of living, I would better choose to be in a forever relationship with tears. Every life is free will. Every life deserves to be treated with love, care, and affection. Spread Love. Spread Humanity.
Let Humanity Prevail.