Reminiscence of life

It was a retired police constable, in a train journey, who had cornered me in a gruelling debate. He had utter disrespect for the Journalist clans. He accused me and the likes of me. Of being biased, of having hunger for only false and sensational news. He brought to debate life examples- how the highest selling newspaper covers story about a techy falling to death from her posh apartment while ‘deliberately’ neglecting a poor women crushed by truck… burnt by her husband or killed by her paramour. “You sell news only to elite. Do you really have social responsibility?”

I very much knew about the “rotten tooth” he was talking about, yet could not agree with him- my professional affinity blocked my convictions and argued with him blindly.

“Kid I have seen many journalists in my life. They come to stations peck news that only sells and not those which are important,” he said. He was firing bullets and I was his ‘bull’s eye’

“Ears of journalists would erect to full attention the moment we say that few bar girls were arrested in the city… and the same ears would turn dead when we say five gamblers were arrested. ‘Sex’- is that such a big factor in selling newspaper?” his questions were becoming more harsh and provoking.

I could have ripped off his dignity, for I knew in and out of the police department. How it works, when it works and why it works! I could have put him to utter humiliation by showing him the Lokayuktha report on the number of police officials who were on the wrong side of their duty. Most of them accused of ‘CRIMES’ beyond acceptance. But I kept quiet, unaltered by his venomous words.

Seeing me un-reactive for minutes, he handed me a four page photocopy of a suicide note and a FIR attached along with it.

The summary of FIR: Victim, a widow, aged about 17 was found dead, with eighty per-cent deep burns, under mysterious circumstance. The prime facie evidence says that the victim set herself ablaze after soothing her four-month-old (female) infant to death. A case of unnatural death has been registered at the Earrabli taluk police station in Chitradurga. A suicide note was found in the house- alleging her brother-in-law and her in-laws as the reason for her death.

I turned to the suicide note. Written in Kannada with lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes was powerful enough to quake my heart.

“The Almighty will not forgive me for what I have done to my baby and what I am going to do now. For only HE has every right to give and take life and not me, but leaving my child in this world and in the hands of those inhuman people mean my child would suffer,” was how the suicide note started. I saw the date on the FIR, it stated 1997 December.

I looked at the police constable; his hands were trying to hide the tears from running down the cheeks. “Read the entire story. The villain is a Journalist,” he said. I requested him to sit next to me as I found it difficult to understand her writing.

“What had I done to the almighty, for He made me so weak and submissive? From the day of my birth he has been testing me, hurting me and failing me in all my attempts,” the police man read to me from the note.

“Victim’s father abandoned mother and four of her sisters after her birth. And at age of three her mother died of illness. The eldest sister looked after her for 10 years and then she started to earn her bread by working as maid,” the police official gave me this additional information, which was not inscribed in the suicide note.

Skipping the next three paragraphs, which the cop said was not that important, he started reading “I was not ready for marriage at the age of 15, but did I have a choice? NO. My wedding was just like a cattle trade, the groom whose demands were least got my hand. He was 13 years elder to me.

“My husband was a gentleman. On our ‘first night’ he promised me that he would keep me happy till end. He did not even touch me on that night saying ‘you are not yet ready for this’. He kept his promise at-least for some days.

“His affection and love changed me, the pressure from in-laws made me to surrender physically to him … not once but many. Our first baby boy was born still/dead on the very same day of our first wedding anniversary. He stood by me, protested against his parents for putting unwanted pressure on me,” the cop continued reading the suicide note.

“But, as it has been all through my life, happiness did not stay with me for more than one and half years. Five days after I gave him the good news of conceiving again, his death news was brought to me. Some-one had killed him. His body was found on the railway track near city (Chitradurga).

“My in-laws said the money lenders killed him as my husband could not repay them. While the police, who came to my doors twice, said he died in an accident. Truth never reached me.”

Looking into my eyes directly the police man said, “It was a murder.” He did not give any further description as who did it.

He turned to the third page, “I knew what death is and how to live with-out loved ones. More than my life I was worrying about the gift he had left in my womb. ”

“My in-laws distanced themselves from me saying that it was my unborn child, which is responsible for my husband’s untimely death.”

“My husband’s last gift to me was a baby girl. Healthy and beautiful she was,” tears were uncontrollable in the cops eyes. Handing over the papers in walked away rubbing his cheeks.’’

“Fifteen days after my child’s birth the money lender along with three of his men came asking for repaying the money my husband had taken from them. Rupees Five lakh was what they demanded. I never knew what my husband had done with that money? Where is that now?”

“Like a Faristha, sent by the Almighty himself, my brother-in-law came to my rescue. He had a verbal duel with the money lender. After 20 minutes of fight, with grudge in their heart and lips money lenders left us,” the next two lines of the note was distorted by drop of water, assuming it be tears, had spread the ink in original copy. The photocopy made it even hard to read.

“From that day on wards, his (brother in-law) arrival to my house became regular. He said, he has filed a murder case against the money lender and will fight them tooth to tooth. ‘I have good contacts with the police and politicians, so sister-in-law don’t worry, victory would be ours’ was the words he always said to me.”

“He played with my child and gave me money for the daily and child’s need every time he came home.”

“One night, he came to my house at around 10 in night and said ‘to fight the case I need some money’. He started searching my house, but did not get even a single paisa. His eyes had tears. A feel that if money is not arranged we would lose the case, was in him. Like a sister I went near him to console.”

“But what happened next, I can’t explain. Shame engulfs me.”

“He did not come to my house for two days after the shameful night. A man of money lender came to my house on the third morning and said that I need not pay anything to his boss and ordered me to take the case back.

“Neither did I know how to react to him nor the person to contact next. That evening brother –in -law came home with a box of sweets, flowers and fruits. He explained me how they are going to win the court case and our lawyer had forced the money lender to pay compensation to me.

“No matter how much I tried to distance myself from him, so much near did he come. While his right hand forced my mouth shut… his other hand undressed me. My own dress became a tool for him to mute my cry. The wounds carved by his nails and tooth were so deep that even weaning my child was next to impossible.

“My in-laws took no action against him, and instead blamed me of making false accusation on ‘God’ like man. ‘You have an illicit relationship with someone and putting that blame on our son’ was how they outcaste me.”

“Even last night he came home… raped me… threatened to kill my daughter and put that blame on me if I made an issue.

“Blood came in my nipples while weaning my child. That’s when I decided that living such a life is a sin and burning myself is the only way of washing away my sins,” was how she ended the note.

I tried to avoid eye contacting with the police official; else he would notice the tears in my eyes.

“Apart from the FIR, no progress has been made. The case was shut saying it was suicide because of financial problem and she could not bear her husband’s death,” said the cop. Even the original copy of this suicide note is destroyed he added.


PS: 1.) The names of the characters have been intentionally hidden. We tend to read religion by the mere mention of name.

2.) Brother- in- law was just a stringer with a Kannada newspaper.

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Has not excavated fully. There are half baked feelings, desires and ambitions. But a heart to complete and compel.

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