The Sins of the Parents
There was quite a bit of furor in the hospital wards as I entered today. I was in a bit of a hurry to catch the attendance so I didn’t bother to stop and inquire till after I successfully finger printed myself in the biometric machine after the mandatory 3 tries it takes daily to recognize me. Once that important part of my duty done, I naturally drifted back to where the arguments were going on to catch up on the latest gossip.
The facts of the case as explained to me by the nurses was this -a pregnant lady had been brought in the early hours of the night in an advanced delivery state with the child caught up in an awkward position halfway down the womb and hence causing severe bleeding in the mother. The duty doctor had attempted an emergency cesarean and in a twist of fate the child had survived somehow but the mother exhausted beyond her body’s capacity to endure had died soon after the childbirth.
And then had started all the confusion. When asked about the next of kin to hand over the child and the dead person, the people who had brought the lady in for emergency admission declined to accept responsibility for they said that they were just the neighbors of the dead woman. They had overheard the woman screaming alone in her house from the labor pains, had rushed in to see what was up and then seeing her condition had put her in an auto and brought her to the hospital for treatment out of humanitarian grounds only.
After much cajoling and threatening the nursing staff finally found out the address of the dead woman’s parents from them. When they contacted the parents of the dead woman, they had rushed in wailing and screaming at their loss and after the mandatory scene-creation, they said they would accept the body of their daughter only and not the living child who was no relation of theirs. The nurses automatically assumed that this was one more of those love stories/elopements where the parents are dead against the couples even if they are dead.
But there was a further twist to this story. When the parents of the dead woman finally got to control their grief they gave the name (and address) of their son-in-law and suggested that he be summoned to take guardianship of the child. So then the hospital authorities called up the husband of the dead woman and he arrived to everyone’s surprise with a lawyer in tow. The guy was a minor official in some government department and had decided to take an official approach to everything by letting his lawyer speak on his behalf.
The story the lawyer told was that the lady in question, had married his client an year ago and right from the beginning had been creating problems for him. After a couple of weeks she had come right out and said that she had been forced into marriage with him against her will by her parents as she was already in love with an auto driver near her college who looked as smart as the actor Surya – the smart action hero(as described in her dialogue it seems). But the parents had objected to their love and had hurriedly married off to this guy, a government officer, who looks like the comedian S.V. Shekar (her own dialogue again).
The result of this midnight confession by the girl to her husband was seen right the next day when she had disappeared from her husband’s house after saying she was off to visit her parents for a day or two. When the husband learnt she was missing, he was in a panic and so contacted his lawyer first – because there is an obscure little law in the Indian Penal Code which says that any wife who dies within the first 7 years of the marriage is supposed to have been murdered by her husband and it carries the death penalty for the husband (a law which was originally made to prevent the exploding stove deaths but now widely misused for other reasons by our friendly neighborhood police force)
Anyhow the family lawyer had suggested that they give an official police complaint to safeguard themselves- which the husband promptly did. And our efficient Chennai police immediately located the missing woman by enquiring at the local auto stand of her lover boy. They traced her to the house where she was living happily with her lover, the auto driver. When the husband was informed of this by the police, he had called at his in-laws place and told them he was washing his hands off their daughter and he would divorce her after the mandatory two year waiting period specified by law for a divorce.
Meanwhile the girl who was living her dream life with her lover got a jolt of reality when she became pregnant and discovered by chance that her dream boy had another family in another town- at his native place. Frequent quarrels had resulted from this and the woman had made an attempt to commit suicide more than once but had somehow survived. Meanwhile as the date of her delivery neared the auto driver had one final quarrel with her and disappeared after telling her that he was going back to his original wife and kids back in his hometown. The woman who had been left alone survived for a few days till she had died in childbirth.
So now the husband (the official one) refused to take custody of the child saying it was not his but the illegitimate offspring of an affair. The parents had refused to take the child saying it was not their grandchild. Finally with no one willing to take responsibility for the child, the hospital authorities had no choice but to dispatch the child to an orphanage. And that’s the story i heard this morning to start off my working day.
What this story reminded me of immediately was the recent Madras High Court’s judgment on pre-marital sex which was widely reported in all the newspapers and which ruled that any couple found sleeping together being considered as officially married. But that should by rights, apply only to two people who have sex exclusively with each other. But what happens when extra marital affairs like this happens? The woman legally married one man and had a child with another man. Now both of them are refusing to accept the child as their own despite the high court’s judgment that she is now “legally” married to both of them at the same time- the minute she slept with both. Quite confusing isn’t it?
Human relationships are often complicated. We human beings often let our hearts rule over our heads when it comes to love. We also react emotionally to any issue which affects our happiness- that’s why we often say, in our excuse, I am only human. But we should also remember that our actions have consequences, maybe not immediately apparent but nevertheless real. And the persons who might get affected by our thoughtless (and selfish) actions are often other innocents- like the child in this case. For the child was accepted by neither the hero Surya nor the comedian S.V.Sekar finally.
So though I am a big fan of love, I do believe that the right time to fight for love is before the marriage- at least the night before the wedding or even at the altar, right up to the last minute before the ceremony (remember Julia Roberts in the movie Runaway Bride?). But not after the wedding ceremony is over and thou art wed has been pronounced. If so it will definitely end up in a tragedy for everyone.
And one final word at the risk of falling afoul of the law. Relationships (families) are often complicated and messy, but they somehow pull through in the end. The Law was evolved (over thousands of years) to punish criminals and keep peace in the society and not to hang around the bedrooms and decide who is married to whom, based on who slept with whom. Don’t you have murderers and rapists to hang, your honorable justices? So why are you pushing together two people who do not want to do so by free will, to live together in the name of the law? Do you really think it will last, marriages made in fear of punishment? Will there be any kind of happiness in it, when two people are forced to live with each other just to avoid being sent to jail? I really don’t know…maybe someone who has experienced it will enlighten me, if a marriage made in fear can work well.