Thursday, December 08, 2005

Inhuman apathy

Life is truly perplexing. It springs up surprises - some pleasing ones and then some which shakes one's soul. I currently face one such time

I live in a fairly "well to do" locality of Indore - the mini Mumbai situated in MP. And we have had a fairly peaceful and successful existence. One fine evening during dinner, my mother surprised me with this question - "Do you know somebody in the police?"

"Hey ! why ?". Could I have reacted in any other manner?

She then told me about a very scared lady who came running (literally) towards our house at noon that day. She requested for a glass of water. She looked traumatised and was very scared. When my mother talked to her, she realised that the woman has been beaten by her husband. Some of her glass bangles were broken and a few pieces had pierced her wrist resulting in minor cuts.

Gradually she opened up to my mother's comforting tone & words telling her how she is harrassed for every little thing that she does or fails to do. She lives with her husband and in laws in a flat of a multistoreyed building in our locality. Her Husband is a medical representative with a leading pharmaceutical company. Her in-laws and Husband tortures her, apparantly for dowry. Could this be true? - are we living in a city & in a locality where stories like this happen? Till now we had only read such stories in newspapers.

A quick little neat investigation brought forward more startling fact : everybody in that building (where she lives) is aware of her situation - however everybody blissfully ignores it as something of a mess to get into.
  1. On my mother's egging - the woman in question - called up her parents who live in a small village in rural MP. To our consternation her mother suggested her to live with her husband and face their wrath. Hers was a simple explanation - how will she explain to her community/society as to why her daughter has come back.
  2. We then considered contacting the police and were stumped by an innocent question from her - Can I keep living with my family once the complaint has been made?
  3. My mother ruled out our getting involved directly in the situation - too dangerous, we live in the same locality. I with some pangs of guilt and shame on myself accepted that as the most practical thing to do.
  4. I seemed to be running out of options and started feeling a little helpless. I had read & heard of agencies like National Commission for women (NCW) and National Human Rights commission (NHRC) - surely they can handle this better. I searched and found their websites; mailed to the NCW, only to realise I will not be responded to. Its more than 10 days now but no reples. No the mail did not bounce.

I feel helpless, guilty, even a little ashamed. May be thats why I am writing it all. How can somebody make a difference to such lives? I have taken a resolution I will keep trying something or the other. I guess I will atleast make some difference if not change her life. For a change my mother & my wife seem to be cooperative.