Long ago, I met a young woman who would be around 20 years old at the most. She was an ordinary looking lady. She was clad in a sari with its palla (veil) on her head. Out of curiosity, I asked her the reason. She meekly replied – “My mother in law likes this.” I was surprised to see her dignity because while she had held her veil, none of her in-laws was there.
I was proud of her with the thought that she respected her mother-in-law so much that she was following her instruction even in her absence. She was eight months pregnant and had come to fetch drinking water in one big earthen pot and a bucket. Her house was around 1Km away from the public tap spot. I saw her looking deeply in my eyes. In spite of her normal dress, there was some attraction in her face. May be her gold nose ring and her gold earrings gave her a different look.
The very next morning, I came to know that she was burnt alive the last night. I was badly shocked. I got furious also. How could people be so cruel? I asked myself – Are they not afraid of God? He never spares anyone. Sooner or later He punishes them.
The victim had stealthily given a hint to some of her known ladies that her in-laws were conspiring to kill her. Some had suggested her to run away but the poor lady couldn’t run away. May be she was doomed to die.
When the incident occurred, people around the victim’s house got alert. They felt something fishy. They gathered near the gate of the victim’s house and tried to enter the house but a cop was standing guard. The cop assured the people that everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about. A little later, people were told that the victim burned herself while warming food for her husband. But the people knew the truth. Her in-laws were lying!
In the morning, more people assembled in front of the house. They openly condemned the family suspected to be responsible for such ghastly act. The police came and asked the public to give statement but none came forward and the public dispersed. Somehow, a Women Organization came forward and gathered people to protest against the injustice. People picked up the suspected mother-in-law from the house, put her on a donkey, blackened her face, put a shoe garland in her neck and moved the procession in the colony condemning the burning of her daughter-in-law. They later handed over the old lady to police.
By the evening, a cop dropped the old lady back home stealthily. The victim’s husband married again soon. The irony is that the society didn’t raise any objection. Actually the common man has become helpless. Sometimes in the pursuit of helping others, he gets entangled in the complexities of law. I still clearly remember those deep looking eyes.