Letter from a Deceased Daughter

I recently read a lot of letters through Count Santulan’s 30 Days 30 Letters Challenge. Some awesome ones on the host’s blog and few of my favourites on Shail’s Nest. I have been writing letters since the age of five when my Dad went saath samundar paar for work. The next ten years I knew him only through the multiple letters, a few rationed phone calls and occasional visits. I also wrote letters to a very dear friend Latha whom I lost to a tragedy in 1997.  And then I read Kajal’s Letter to the Unborn Child which was beyond words. Inspired by these letters I picked up this half-written letter from the drafts and managed to complete it.

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Dear Maa and Baba,

As a child, I have always envied Bhai for the immense love you showered upon him. There was always a difference in the way you dealt with the two of us. This made me feel the gap and I was always in an effort to bridge that gap. That’s exactly why I put all my efforts in my studies. I thought my grades could help me gain your love. If it was not for the scholarship that I won, I knew you were ready to pull me out of school on Daadi’s orders.

Maa, you were always rude towards me reflecting your strong dislike for me. I know it was because you had to bear the pain of the hateful words from everyone when you gave birth to a girl child, the first in the family. Thankfully, you didn’t choose to kill me for whatever reason. But you conveniently decided to stay aloof. I always longed for that same caressing that Bhai got when he lay down in your lap after that afternoon meal. I always longed for a bite of the parantha that you lovingly fed Bhai with. I always expected to receive a surprise toffee or a ladoo inside my lunch-box like Bhai got. I always waited for you to wipe off my face with the loose end of your saree just like you did for Bhai. I always longed for that sweet kiss that you gave a sleeping Bhai before retiring for the day. But you chose to pretend you were busy or that you aren’t aware of my longing.

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Picture Courtesy: Google Image Search

Baba, I stood by the railing of the balcony waiting for you to call me for a ride on your Bajaj Chetak just like you took Bhai every night. I waited for that one hug from you which I never got. I waited all along to get a glimpse of yours on my report cards but you stole your gaze and pretended to be busy every single time. I can still feel the pride in yours eyes that I saw when I came back with that gold medal. I wanted both of you to be there for my convocation ceremony, but you chose to go to Minister Saab and beg for an engineering college seat for Bhai. Baba, I can still feel the wetness of your tears that fell on my head when I placed my first salary in your hands, bowed down and touched your feet for blessings. Instead of placing your hand on my head and encouraging me, you chose to wipe off those tears of love and pride. Instead you put that money down saying our house doesn’t run on the money earned by females. You were so proud yet unable to express it for fear. You always believed that girls should not be encouraged. Not your fault. You were conditioned that way.

I know how much you hate me for falling in love with a guy from a different caste. You cursed me day and night. But why wouldn’t I fall for someone who gave me everything that you couldn’t. Yes. He gave me the love, the care, the attention that I deserved from both of you. To me he was not just a man I loved, but someone who loved me back, listened to me patiently and understood me. His love helped me get over the grief of the lack of your love and attention. In a way, your neglect is what was responsible for this relationship.

You shut the door on my face when I chose to marry him against your wishes even after strong opposition and imprisonment. You never bothered to even check about my well-being though I stayed just a block away. With trembling hands and a weeping heart I had signed a police complaint against Bhai and you because I had to save my husband from the goons that Bhai hired. Trust me Baba, God knows that till date I haven’t been able to forgive myself for that signature.

For a short while life was bliss because I chose to ignore the warning signs and accepted everything that my in-laws wanted me to do. What else could a girl without any support from maternal home do? I quit my job as they didn’t want me to work. I guess that’s the biggest mistake I made. I had to undergo three abortions in two years because my mother-in-law got the prenatal sex determination tests done and I was carrying baby girls. Maa, my first abortion is when I understood that you didn’t just dislike me, but you hated me from the core of your heart for being one from your own tribe. I honestly couldn’t bear to see them killing my unborn daughters. I wanted to hug them tight. I wanted to caress them. I wanted to kiss them all over. I wanted to feed them lovingly. I wanted to enjoy being a loving mother to them. I wanted to relive my lost childhood with theirs. I wanted to be a mother to them that you weren’t to me. But Maa, I couldn’t save them. They killed them right in front of my eyes and I just lay there semi-conscious and completely helpless.

Three months ago my husband met with an accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. My mother-in-law still wishes to have a heir for the family. She is now forcing me to sleep with my brother-in-law. She has even consulted her family astrologer and decided on a muhurat so that the child born out of this union is a boy. My helpless husband cannot do anything but shed tears silently lying on his bed. Mother-in-law has threatened me that if this again is a girl, she’ll make me sleep with my father-in-law.

I cannot let this happen to myself. I cannot let this happen to my unborn babies. I am tired. I’m helpless. That’s exactly why I chose this muhurat to light the candle. With that blast of the cylinder, I felt so relieved. Every inch of my body was burning into ashes. Even while I cried out of severe pain, deep within I was glad that I managed to escape the wrath of this cruel world. Maa and Baba, honestly I did wish you both to be there next to me in those last minutes just to tell me once in my lifetime that you did love me with all your heart. Alas!

I’m sure you wouldn’t have cared to even see my charred body one last time. No child can escape the curse of their parents. Isn’t it? But, I could. Because I chose to escape. I hope my death would have restored your lost family honor. I hope my death would have made it easier for my husband. I hope my death would have taught my in-laws a lesson.

I want to come back and relive my life all over again, the way I want it, with all the deserved love and attention. I’ll be waiting for that day Maa, when you can happily hold me in your arms and kiss me again and again. I’ll be waiting for that day Baba, when you’ll proudly show my certificates and medals to your friends and colleagues. I’ll be waiting for that day Maa and Baba when you’ll not be ashamed of accepting that you have a daughter. I’ll be waiting for that day when I can decide whether I want to have children or not. I’ll  be waiting for that day when I won’t have to worry about whether my unborn baby is a boy or a girl. I’ll be waiting till I will have complete control over my life.

Till then,

Always yearning for your love,

Yours lovingly,

Beti

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30 thoughts on “Letter from a Deceased Daughter

    • Indeed sad. You can find at least one of the incidents from this letter happening in almost every other house. What troubles me is educated people from our generation too are still into this gender bias. 😦

  1. This is heart-breaking. I can’t put in words what I exactly feel.
    But then ,I can’t keep myself from telling my comment, though I know this is a fictional letter, this is happening around us even today.
    I hate the daughter for ending her life, that is not the way she should have reacted, none was taught a lesson with her suicide, none other than the girl lost anything. I also dislike her love towards those parents who had shown all that discrimination right from her childhood, especially her mother. No questions on hows , but she should have saved herself from her in-laws in someway , instead of killing herself….sigh!

    • I completely understand your take. But I have a few questions.
      Do you think people who commit suicide (a gruesome crime) do it because they want to? Don’t you feel that they would have fought and lost many times before committing it? I have seen two examples in my circle and hence I will never blame them. If there is anyone to be blamed, it is our society, our mindset and the way we make it difficult for people to live in it.

      • For each, his or her own…I agree that most times our system is so SO intolerable and the mindset of people around makes everything more terrible than it is….but my experiences are quite different…I know many who committed suicide as they couldn’t bear the consequences of their own actions/ decisions. At the same time, I know people who keep on fighting, though they are miserably and repeatedly defeated by their life and society…. still they never want to give up or think of suicide….Though the post was purely fictional, it is happening around us, even by the educated lot, that makes me desperate about this decision….When I read it, I had (still I have) a feeling that she didn’t do anything to escape from that wretched situation….she was like giving in, accepting her defeat / helplessness…which I think as a horrible, terrible mistake…..Every one doesn’t has the same nature, still, that is not adjustment…or action with a hope that everything would turn out well in the future…Yeah I understand that she loved her husband, but all human beings have a responsibility towards their ‘self’ ….to flee from danger, that is NOT selfishness…that is a duty.

        This is happening around us, because they don’t get help from an outside person, some of them run away / escape… Even though they don’t have supportive parents/relatives… Life is basically to fight, giving in esp. in the form of suicide is wrong.

        Not going away from the topic, still, haven’t you noticed the comments/reactions usually seen in social media/blogs… People are so good at words and they misuse it most times, say things they didn’t really intend, that’s a special psychology to gain acceptance or attention….When a post on rape/domestic abuse comes, everyone supports with the unthinkable kindness through ‘comments’…. How many of them will actually help a victim if he/she stands before them and ask for help….I know that very well… There is A LOT of genuine people in this world, NO DOUBT, but the majority is insincere in their words…. So don’t think that I just made a comment to accuse the imaginary victim to divert the sympathy. It is not… I am a person who works with the actual victims… No more explanations for that. No matter what, I can never support the idea of suicide. It is never a solution, other fragile minds just get one more example to follow. At the same time, there are people with mental illness, having suicidal tendency… I am not talking about them, but about the normal ones.

        “Because I chose to escape. I hope my death would have restored your lost family honor. I hope my death would have made it easier for my husband. I hope my death would have taught my in-laws a lesson. ”

        I hate that attitude 😦 I am sure you get what I mean.

        • Hi Mridula,
          I completely understand what you’re trying to say and I respect your take in this issue. I am in no way supporting or promoting suicide. I personally do feel that one needs to fight back and survive against all odds. But I have seen two cases in which the victims were actually not left with much of and option. Whenever I sit down and think about them and the ordeal they went through I cannot blame them. Having been through a really difficult time in my own life just about a decade ago, and having contemplated suicide myself (https://rekhadhyani.com/2013/09/09/never-quit/), I can truly say it needs a lot of courage to even try something like that. And those who try must be going through something really drastic to make them attempt it. About why someone doesn’t fight back: each person is different and each person is brought up in a different environment. Many are conditioned to adjust and I’m sure you agree that it takes a lot of effort to come out of that conditioning. While I urge everyone to fight till the end, I also know that many need a lot of support and persuasion to come out of that shell and start fighting. Even after all this, many just give in to the stress and pressure. A friend of mine who works as a volunteer for a suicide prevention center and counsels people tells me how very different people are and how different and terrible many of the circumstances are.

          I took medicines and counselling for almost one and a half year till I got out of that self-blaming and self-pitying mode. My counselor’s words that changed my life were, “Do you think everything and everyone will fall in place if you commit suicide? Do you think they’ll mourn your death? Do you think their lives will stop if you are not there? Nothing and no one will miss you for more than a few hours or a few days. Everyone needs to be a little selfish and live their life for themselves. Unless you’re happy you’ll not be able to keep others happy.” My life post this has been a `Her words will remain with me for my life. And I try and pass it on to whoever I feel needs it.

          About the female in the story, I wanted to include the various social issues that females face in this letter and hence it couldn’t have a better ending.

          And about the posts and comments on topics like this. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Honestly, most people do comment without really meaning what they say and without really understanding what all they can do. I myself will be guilty many a times, but I still respect them because they atleast decided to speak and not sit quietly. Their words may inspire someone else to come forward and be ready to help. Trust me when I say youngsters these days get a lot of inspiration because they read and they understand the need. I hope you understand what I mean.

          I sincerely appreciate your honest feedback on the story and the scenario. Thank you!

  2. Rekha, it takes a lot for me to shed a tear. That too over a post and a letter that too. As gut-wrenching as it is, I love the way you brought it about. The passion with which this letter is written is enough to move even the most coldest of hearts. As everyone else said, it is quite clear that this cause is close to your heart. And you will truly make a difference to this world with your writing

    • Thanks Sid for taking time to read! Appreciate your kind words and I’m glad this touched you. Yes. saving the girl child is a cause close to my heart. I hope I am able to do my bit in bringing the necessary change in our people.

  3. Heart wrenching. I know it’s true. It happens all around us and it makes me really sad. Yesterday I got a call from my NRI friend, she got to know sex of baby for her sister-in-law and it’s a baby boy. She said, ‘Good news, Saru. It’s a boy.’ I so wanted to say – If it was a girl, then it would have been bad. I pity such people.

    • Yes Saru! It happens all around us. Unfortunately it is being carried forward by the educated lot of our generation. Indeed a pity. I hate it when some friends tell me that I am not supposed to spend on my parents since I have got married and now my income is only for my husband and in-laws. BS!

  4. This was such a moving post. I had tears flowing throughout the time I read it. Although I also feel that suicide was not the path she should have taken. But well, when one loses hope permanently there’s no scope for rational thinking.

    • “But well, when one loses hope permanently there’s no scope for rational thinking.”

      Seen this happening and so I do understand the psyche of someone who goes through it.

  5. I always thought that love for a child by a parent is paramount, greater than anything else. Cases like this make me feel how awful it is that this isn’t true!

    • Unfortunately, for many it is not. And hence female infanticide, gender bias and honour killings happen till date. And trust these do happen mostly among the educated lot.

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