Has she done it?

It was a Sunday noon. A family from Ambattur came to my office. The head of the family was around sixty-five years. His wife, a thirty-year old man and a young woman all had come along with him. He introduced himself as Arumugam. He had retired from his service in telephone department. His wife was Rani, the young man was his first son-in-law Pandiyan and the girl was Abhirami, his first daughter. He said that he had come to me to discuss the life of his second daughter Rajeswari.

Though he was in a very ordinary job, Arumugam had given good education to both his daughters and had also constructed a house in Ambattur. He had constructed two portions upstairs with the money he got at the time of retirement and had given one of it to his first daughter two years ago. And, he had kept ready the other portion for his second daughter. Also, he has saved money for the marriage celebration of his second daughter.

"Sir, I planned everything and arranged everything for my daughters including houses. But my second daughter's life has been spoil arumugam opened up lamenting. His wife continued,My husband has three sisters. He helped his father in marrying them off. All the sons-in-law are rich, being in business. Because they are in business, they'll be buying cars, bikes etc. But, my husband was in government service, we had to be careful while spending. They all will boast about their business and riches. My husband bought a scooter only five years before his retirement. But, there will be fluctuations in their fortune whereas ours is a controlled life."

Arumugam took on: "All were surprised when I celebrated my first daughter's marriage. My first son-in-law Pandiyan is like my son. He is also a government servant like me. When I registered the first portion in the name of my first daughter and her husband, all my sisters suggested that I could have arranged that the portion was inherited by my first daughter after my time. My first sister has two sons. The elder is of my first daughter's age. When I was considering the marriage of my second daughter, she came to my house. She asked me whether I could give my second daughter in marriage to her son. In fact, my first daughter is just two months younger to her son. I had wanted to ask her about giving my first daughter to her son. They were financially very comfortable at that time. As a pre-emptive move, my sister came to my house and told me that marrying close relations was not scientifically advisable as the offspring might be defective. I understood that she was not in favor of accepting my daughter as her daughter-in-law. But now, the same sister told me that she was wrong in insisting that marriage between close relations should be avoided, that many people were still marrying close relations and begetting healthy children. She asked me to give my second daughter to her son and assured that they could live upstairs and that she would not insist that they should live with her. I agreed immediately, wondering whether I would be able to get an equally good son-in-law like my first one if I searched for varans outside. My wife and everybody agreed to this proposal as they all believed in me. I believed in my sister but she cheated me, hiding a very big thing from me."

Arumugam forgot the atmosphere, forgot his age and forgot everything. He started crying.

"I was so excited when my sister Lakshmi asked me to give my second daughter Rajeswari in marriage to her son Santosh. I thought that I would be the luckiest person to have both my daughters near me in the same house with two very good sons-in-law. I have a granddaughter through my first daughter. I believed that I can be very happy for the rest of my life after my second daughter's marriage. We celebrated her marriage in a more grand way than my first daughter's. We did everything out of our own volition. My sister used to tell that though she was not particular about dowry and gifts, her husband's people should not think low of me. We did everything for our daughter not for the sake of my sister's words but for the sake of our own satisfaction. But, we, who were very particular that no complaint should arise in future, never tried to find out the defect of the groom. How can we enquire about my own sister's son when my own sister had let us down." Arumugam eyes welled with tears.

After a while, he resumed:"Rajeswari occupied the other portion of my house after marriage. I felt very happy. I was very proud of my sister who kept up her word that she would allow her son to live with us after marriage. But when Rajeswari returned from honeymoon from Kodaikanal, there was no happiness on her face. I asked my wife to find out the thing from Rajeswari. But Rjeswari didn't open her mouth even to her mother. To me, whenever I asked, her reply would be evasive. Three months went by. One day, at 7 o'clock in the morning, Rajeswari rushed down and bolted herself inside a room. In spite of our repeated requests, she didn't open the door. After about half an hour, she came out with swollen eyes. She rushed to her mother and hugging her, cried out, We have been cheated. Athai had cheated us.Whatever she told with uncontrollable tears in her eyes shattered us totally. Santosh is not suitable for married life. Both my sister and her husband learned about it five or six years back. Santosh had confided everything to Rajeswari within two days after marriage. Initially, he had pitied my daughter for having married him. But in course of time, he had become a doubting Thomas. He would reprimand her using foul language even if she talked to her sister husband Pandiyan."

He had prevented her from coming down to our portion fearing she might reveal the truth to us. One day, when she went out to dry the clothes, he had tortured her telling that she went there only to see Pandiyan. She came down when she had felt that she had reached the limit. I was totally broke after hearing her story. But then, I took a vow that I should arrange a new life for her. My sister and her husband initially denied any knowledge about Santosh's problem and reiterated that they were innocent. But slowly, they admitted the truth. Santosh used to get highly irritated whenever they talked about his marriage. At one stage, they had started doubting and had taken him to a doctor. The doctor had given the report that Santosh couldn't have married life, that he was not qualified for that. At this, my sister had started worrying that Santosh should have a wife to take care of him. But she wrongly calculated and believed that a girl from relatives' circle would not break the marriage in spite of Santosh's defect. We got divorce very easily. Because of this divorce, not only my daughter has separated from her husband, but my family and my sister's family have also separated. We are not even on talking terms today. I'll die only after I see Rajeswari married and lead a normal and happy married life. We have come to you for help in finding a very good and loving boy for Rajeswari.Arumugam concluded after a long talk laced with self-pity, anger and sorrow.

We are looking for a good boy for Rajeswari. We are praying to Goddess Rajeswari to bless her with a good marriage.

I got a call from Doordarshan for a program in which cases of in-laws doing justice to their daughter-in-law by arranging her not only divorce from their son but also remarriage for the girl are shown. I attended the shooting in which I narrated the story of a sister-in-law who got a divorce from her brother for his wife and who was on the look out for a good boy for that girl.

When I was returning from the shooting, I got a call from someone who insisted that he should meet me immediately. When I told him that I was actually traveling in a train at that moment, he wanted an appointment at the earliest at Chennai. I asked him to come to my office at 10 in the morning. The next day, when I entered my office at 10.10, a family of five people was waiting for me. I asked all of them to come to my room. One of them introduced himself as Krishnan. It was he who had telephoned to me yesterday. He introduced the other members - his wife Latha, his sister Kamala, her husband Sivakumar and their son Vivek. He said that Vivek’s marriage should be held the next Sunday and that they had come to me for that. He continued, “Sir, his marriage should be conducted the next Sunday by any means. We want only a good girl; we don’t expect anything else from the girl’s side. Even the celebration cost will be borne by us." I told him that without knowing anything about the boy's background, no girl's party would agree to hurry up. Also, I should know the reason for the urgency, I told."

He started talking on the full story:"Vivek studied B. Tech in IIT, Chennai. Then, he went to U. S. and had his higher studies there. Now, he is employed in a good job in Los Angeles. He is earning $12,000 per month. We were looking for a suitable girl for him. Vivek had told that it was enough if the girl was just a graduate and looked fairly beautiful and that she must be suitable for a harmonious family life. We all liked the varan Radhika, whose parents are bank employees. Radhika is a B. Sc student and has done a computer course. Her only sister is in second year B. E. We asked them to come to a restaurant so that we could meet each other and exchange details. We told the girl's party that Vivek would be in Chennai in April on one month leave and that his marriage should be celebrated then. We gave them Vivek's photographs, video-graph etc. and got Radhika's photographs and other particulars in return."

The girl's party was very enthusiastic. We sent the photograph of the girl to Vivek, he was impressed instantly. We fixed the muhurtham date and booked a marriage hall also. We were in touch with the girl’s party and kept them informed about the progress. We planned that formal betrothal could be done after Vivek’s arrival and after he saw the girl. Vivek arrived on 31 March, we all went to the girl’s house on 1 April. We used to April-fool our friends for the sake of fun. But Radhika did it seriously that we could not forget it for our lifetime. She declared that she was already married! Her own family came to know about it only during our visit to her house when we took Vivek to see her! We all returned totally shattered. Vivek is totally broke. His marriage should be held on the date fixed. We’ve come here for your help,” Krishnan concluded.