The Cruel Dowry System in India.
Devi was happily married to Jeet at the age of twenty-one. None of them had ever met each other or had any information about each other before engagement. Every thing was finalized in the first arranged meeting in the presence of the parents and the relatives of each other.
Devi and Jeet were allowed to discuss few matters in privacy for few minutes, and that’s all. Devi was impressed by the bewitching personality of Jeet at the first sight. He was attractive and handsome enough to woe a woman of his choice.
It was very difficult in the particular society for a girl to have a boy of her choice as a husband without a lump sum. A boy on the other side had a vast choice and he would marry with the girl of his choice and especially with a girl who would offer the best amount of dowry and other gifts to him.
Boys in the society were in shortage, and the girl had to pay a great fortune to get the husband of her choice. A girl whose parents could not afford to pay a certain amount of dowry had to marry a boy of any type regardless of his status or character. She would also be allowed to select a husband from the other caste at events where parents were unable to arrange for the dowry. In most cases the girl was free to choose a college- mate who would not demand any sort of dowry from her parents.
The orthodox system of dowery price becomes a great headache for the parents who have only girls in the family and on the other side it is a great fortune for the parents who have only boys in the family. The parents with equal number had not to worry as they could exchange the deal to their good understanding. A boy would be married to a girl where the parents of the girl would agree to give their son to the sister of the son-in-law without any other deal. Although such a deal did not turn out to be very successful in the trepassing-bothways relation, it turned out to be the workable solution under the tense circumstances.
Devi was the only daughter of the rich parents who were capable of offering a good deal of dowry to get a good husband for their daughter.They were looking around the boy of their choice and had also passed the message around in their circle. Jeet was proposed by their nearest business friend, and was seconded by a relative of theirs. Devi was asked of her opinion and she had no objection to have a smart and a young business tycoon Jeet as her husband.
The engagement ceremony was performed in the community hall in the presence of relatives and friends of both the parties. As Jeet was supposed to be from the South where according to him he had several business commitments, he had very few friends and relatives in New Delhi.But some of his nearest relatives and friends had come to attend the ceremony, all way from Madras.
The marriage ceremony of Devi and Jeet turned out to be one of the most luxurious, well organized and highly attented with the presence of several business tycoons, industriliasts, M.P’s and the Chief Minister who was in good terms with the parents of Devi. The popular musical tunes of welknown Mahesh Kumar & Party and few welknown stars from the Bollywood added some more charm in the function.
Devi was proud to have the handsome and equally rich Jeet as her husband. Her parents gave Jeet the cash of RS. One million, a fiat car, a T.V.Set with VCR, a refrigerator, ultra modern furniture, stock of imported suits and golden chain, rings and a rado-watch. Devi was loaded with golden ornaments and fancy dresses.
Jeet was very lucky to get a good natured and beautiful wife in Devi, with a great deal of dowry, the people present concluded. The parents of Jeet were very happy to see a pretty wife and lot of dowery all heading to their home in Madras. However the mother was heard boasting that their only son Jeet was very much bothered by the rich parents of the various girls in Madras who offered a much bigger amount of dowry than this. But they were not interested only in money. To them status and character of the girl and her family were more important.
Devi reached Madras with lot of good hopes for a happy and prosperous future in the place she longed to see. She had neither relatives nor any friends in the area but once during her college-days she had been on the tour with a student-group and was very much delighted to see the area and the people around. She very much loved speaking English and she found mostly everyone speaking English. Even the hawkers and the cabin owners talked in English as it was their mother tongue.
Moreover she was fond of Madrasi food. She wished if only her parents shifted to the South where she could enjoy the lovely food and the atmosphere. That was the main priority of her and the parents to approve a person in Jeet. She had turned down several offers from the local young and smart business tycoons. The parents were ready to produce as much dowry as required for the boy of her choice.
She was delighted to enter the luxurious compound of a four-roomed bunglow with full facilities. Kitchen and bedroom were of her choice. The Madrasi cook and the maid seemed to be very social. She was also happy to see the watchman and old gardener talking in fluent English, the language she was fond of. She was also surprised to see the milkman, the vegetable-seller and even the sweeper talking in fluent English. Even the cart pullars and some of the beggars also talked in English with the outsiders. Otherwise, Telgu the official local language was used everywhere. No one was seen talking in Hindi as very few of the people knew it.
Everything went smoothly for few months. She was taken to several places of tourism, luxurious hotels and the beautiful gardens. She used to ring her parents often and briefed them about her new home, the good servants and the lovely atmosphere she longed to stay. She also talked about the goodness of Jeet who was very social and taking good care of hers. She also expressed some good comments about her in-laws who also behaved so nicely with her.
Suddenly she found some drastic changes in the behavior of Jeet who started ignoring her at several events. He was no more interested in taking her out in hotels or in the gardens or even at the friend’s house.
In the beginning, he complained of the excess of work.Then he started complaining of his business, which according to him was going towards loss because of the lack of funds. He even asked Devi if her father could send some money for the time being to reorganize his business.
Devi talked about this matter to her father on telephone and the father sent a draft of Rs. One Million immediately and told her to let him know if she needed some more. The father didn’t mind to do so as far his daughter was happy. Money was a secondary thing to him.
Things went on without any set-backs for about six months and again the similar problem cropped up.This time Devi tried to find out the actual problem in the business which was giving losses to Jeet.This time Jeet had some good reason to say that it was because of his partner and as he could not face loss any further, he has decided to go on his own with a small investment to start with.
He convinced Devi to talk to her father once more if only he could lend him a sum of Rs. Two million or so. He had already the sum of four million with him, which he received, from the land he had in Coimbotare, he told Devi. He also promised to return the amount as soon as the business starts making profits. Devi was convinced by his talk and talked to her father again about the problem Jeet was facing and his future plan. The loving father sent the draft of Rs. Two Million without any reluctance and Jeet thanked Devi for that and assured her that everything now will be alright. He treated her well and in the mean time Devi was pregnant and when she gave the good news to her mother she was delighted with joy. Jeet seemed not much interested in this, didn’t bother to congratulate Devi as expected by her nor did he show any happiness or little interest to hear the good news.
Nothing materialized until Devi was in the seventh month of her pregnancy. The custom was to bring the daughter to the parent’s home and the first delivery was to be done at the parent’s house. This time Jeet asked Devi to talk to her parents to bring one million more when they come to pick her up from Madras. She did ring to her parents to come and take her home and talked about the requirement of Jeet but did not insist much over the matter. She was not happy at all with the situation and she became doubtful now about the honesty of Jeet. Perhaps, he was playing around with her by asking an excess of money now and then. Surely, there was something fishy going around out of her knowledge and Jeet was cheating her by giving her excuses beyond her understandings.
The parents arrived in Madras to pick Devi, who had not visited them for the last eighteen months. Neither of them had either dared to visit her at her new home in Madras. They met so often on telephone that they didn’t wish much to see her practically. Neither did Devi long to visit her parents. She was too busy visiting new places and enjoying South Indian dishes.
The parents reached Devi’s place without any money. Jeet was very much upset to learn that and he insisted to arrange for the amount by all means possible before they take Devi with them.The parents were not only surprised but shocked to hear that from a son-in- law to whom they had so far already sent three million without any dialogue.
Devi tried to talk with Jeet and his parents but all in vein.Jeet needed money by all means and he even did not agree to the father’s proposal that he would arrange to sent money immediately on his arrival to New Delhi.The father had no alternative but to tranfer money from his bank to the local account of Jeet in Madras.This was a great shock and a setback to a loving father and a multi-million businessman. However he kept quiet and came to New Delhi with his daughter whom he thought had given to the wrong person.
Devi could not makeout from the sudden change in Jeet whom she loved to be a good husband. She tried to talk to Jeet on telephone from New Delhi but she was not satisfied with the changed behavior of Jeet. However the time went on and Devi gave birth of a handsome son. The news didn’t please Jeet as expected. He never rang to find out the health of Devi, leave aside congratulating her.
He hardly met Devi on the telephone at most events and never replied to her several calls. Devi could not face and tolerate the changed situation and she fell sick. The child was left to the care of a maid and she was admitted in the hospital for the treatment of shock. Jeet was informed of her sickness but did not respond to the request of the father to come and be with Devi until she recovers.
When Devi came out from the shock-sickness, she wished to go to her home in Madras and rang Jeet to find out if he was ready to come and escort her from New Delhi. Jeet ordered Devi to reach Madras on her own with another million rupees within the limited time to avoid further inconveniences on her side. This time Devi went to Madras with a son but no money. She thought that Jeet and his parents would be pleased to see the son who was considered to be a great fortune in their society and forget about money for time being.
Jet did not react as expected but shifted to a smaller house and expelled the cook and the maid and asked Devi to carry out all cooking, washing and cleaning work apart from looking after the child. He said he had no extra money now to pay the servants any more. If she were unable to do the required work she would better pay the servants from her own or arrange it from her parents. Poor Devi had no alternative but to obey her husband under the circumstances.
Jet at times came drunkard at home and tortured Devi.She was bitten several times without any reason.When she asked Jeet to bring some extra household things; he blasted her and shouted at her to bring those things from her parents.He even did not bring the medicine for the child on time.
Poor Devi suffered all this silently and never complained to her parents whom she hardly rang. The mother rang often but Devi did not reveal the truth to her. A relative of hers happened to visit Madras and went to see Devi on the given address and was shocked to find the horrible situation of Devi. She also tried to take Devi with her to New Delhi but it was not possible.The brute, Jeet asked for the demanded money before Devi could go to see her parents.
Parents of Devi were shocked to hear the wicked news of her daughter whom they had brought up in luxury and paid the dowry to the choice of a good husband. But they were cheated and the daughter was married to a devil who had no limits of the demand of money. They had no regrets over the money black-mailed by the cheat son-in –law but the sufferings of Devi and the tortures by the brutal Jeet to her were their main worry. How far they would be forced to pay money and what would be the future of Devi under such tense circumstances!
They decided to relieve the only daughter Devi from the grip of the chit and merciless Jeet. They went to Madras with the lump sum, gave to the shameless Jeet and brought Devi and the child with them with the promise that they would come to send back Devi with the child after few months and come with some more funds. They had to pretend to say so; otherwise Jeet was not ready to release the child with Devi.
They came to learn some shocking information about Jeet from the neighbors and they really regretted over the choice of her daughter. They came to know that Jeet was a real chit and had no business of his own. He was a gambler and lost money in abundance. He had borrowed a great amount from his friends around and never bothered to pay them back. He was jailed a couple of times for that. Devi was his third wife so far.
Devi felt as if she was released from the torture-cell and the parents felt as if they had rescued the poor daughter from the threshold of hell. The parents decided not to send Devi to Jeet’s house any more whatever may come and Devi vowed not to see the face of a chit who had ruined her life and a great amount of her parent’s money. Her taste of Madrasi food HAD SLAPPED HER HARD ON HER FUTURE and she never talked of Madras any more.
There are several cases of the type in India even to day. The government has already shown the red light against the system. The police department is strict over the issue but still it goes on to the very knowledge of the social services, women organizations, and the religious bodies who are all against it.
Every year several cases of tortures of the innocent women due to the lack of dowry fulfillment are recorded. The married girls are burned alive or strangled to death, just because their parents could not meet the demands of the wayward son-in-laws.
Many cases are brought to the attention of the criminal department but at most events the cases are winded up as suicides or accidents. Bribery is the weakness of the police department and the orthodox system of dowry although reckoned as illegal goes on to the sight of the people concerned.