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Photo by Avinash Uppuluri on Unsplash
Recently, the news of a very different kind of baraat made its way to the newspapers. Social media was awash with pics of this very unique procession and accolades in handfuls were ladled out to this father who can easily be dubbed the Father of the Year. Who is he and what exactly did he do? And why was this baraat hailed as something extraordinary?
Hailing from the state of Jharkhand, Mr. Prem Gupta did what many fathers have not been able to do or, have chosen not to. When his daughter Sakshi started facing harassment in her marital home, he not only supported her decision to go ahead with divorce but when it was finalized, brought her back accompanied by dhols and people dancing with joy. A reverse baraat that brought the now divorced daughter back to her home, welcomed with love and happiness.
Going for divorce is a huge decision for any woman and many of them actually back out because of the social stigma attached with being a divorcee. When a daughter, who is being harassed in her in-laws’ home, tries to tell her parents about it, many times the first thing she is told is that she needs to adjust or give the marriage more time. Some even go to the extent of suggesting that the harassment might be her fault altogether. And then there is the age-old wisdom that says that a child will strengthen the bond and she should try for a baby as soon as possible.
In the absence of support and understanding from her family itself, no wonder a woman hesitates in going for divorce even in the face of abuse. So it is no mean feat displayed by this exceptional family to stand up for their daughter, and honor her wishes.
However, even when the immediate family stands in support of the daughter, once she returns home a divorcee, the rumour mills start working overtime. Friends and acquaintances whisper behind backs, their talks full of conjecture and innuendoes, laying the responsibility of a broken relationship more often than not at the woman’s feet. It is not only the woman who is victimized and villified in a divorce, her family too has to bear the burden of these whispered slurs.
Indian society is one that believes in keeping things under wraps and not washing their dirty linen in public. This tendency to keep a parda on all things stinky leads to a deluge of lies in the case of a conflict when both sides try to whitewash their role in it, each outdoing the other in imagination and scope of the lie. However, in the case of a divorce, the bride’s side is the one left with a less than shining image.
When Mr. Prem Gupta decided to bring her daughter back with the same pomp and glory he had seen her off with when she was married, he decided to take the power back from the society. The power to exonerate the groom’s side and talk about his daughter in derogatory whispers. It shifts the supposed responsibility for the broken relationship from the girl to the groom’s side. And it all happens because things are split wide open.
The public nature of the return ensures that the spotlight is now on the groom’s side to give excuses to justify their treatment and their harassment of the bride. Not only this, they will have to work hard to think up ways to find acceptance and save face among their own society lest they too have to deal with the whispers of ‘char log’. Or to find another bride once their wayward ways have been unmasked.
The groom in this question seems to have been married twice before. It is amply clear that to be able to find a bride for the third time, the family must have told tall tales to convince the girl’s side. If the earlier wives and their families had made sure to make things public, this might not have happened to another unsuspecting woman. All the heartbreak and stress that she has to face might have been averted if it had been the norm to make things public instead of brushing things under the carpet. We need to teach our daughters to speak up when they are not being treated well in any situation. To scream, to shout, to publicly oust the tortures that she is facing. Many girls do not do so for fear of maligning the reputation of her parents. But a divorcee is far better than a dead daughter any day.
Parents need to learn that once their daughters are being harassed by their in-laws, they should stand by their daughters. The dishonor lies in the unfair and inhuman treatment of someone you brought with a promise to respect, love,and honour. Not with the poor abused girl or her parents. We as a society, where a girl’s victimization for being abused and harassed, need a serious overhaul of values. In this scenario, what this father did for his daughter becomes definitely commendable. Standing by her, respecting her decision and being there with her in her difficult time. But it is the way he did it that deserves our attention and thoughts.
Sheerin Shahab is an introvert who prefers a book over company any day. Hence, she is a reader, a nature lover, and a die-hard chai fan. She loves to read and write short stories read more...
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