Sometimes some incidents change your entire perspective of looking at things. They even challenge your beliefs and leave you baffled. Sharing one of such food for thought incident with you:
Last week I received a call from an old family friend who had just shifted to their new house. After exchanging the usual pleasantries I asked her how was she feeling in her new locality? She narrated to me a very recent incident that had happened in her building which had left her with many doubts in her mind.
Here I would like to mention, she stays in a four storied apartment with 8 families residing there. The building is very closely knit, in the sense you can hear your next door neighbour’s TV clearly and sometimes also catch a glimpse of what is happening in their drawing room. Just a floor below her lives a 54 year old lady who is an active social worker with local NGO working for women upliftment. Her next door neighbour is a South Indian family consisting of mother, father and their young son. One particular night her neighbours Mr. and Mrs. Pillai had a heated argument about something in their mother tongue. Though nobody could make out the reason behind it, their raised tones depicted the quarrel which was taking place.
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The next day the social worker, let’s call her Ms. Sharma landed up at their place when Mr. Pillai had gone out on some domestic chore. Without waiting for any introductions she started interrogating that lady and told her,’ I know that man harasses you…please just complain once and see what we do to him.’ Now Mrs. Pillai was a God fearing lady and on hearing this she got scared. Looking at Ms. Sharma she said,’ No...No…there is nothing like that at all. It was a family matter, nothing serious. A property dispute going on in the court is pending since last 10 years. You are staying in the building since so long. You also know we never argue about anything. We have been happily married for the last 30 years.’ Not the one to lose out so soon she continued pestering her when Mrs. Pillai’s son Abhinav entered the room.
Now Ms. Sharma’s entire focus shifted to him. She self introduced herself and asked him what he was doing currently. Before Abhinav could react Mrs. Pillai replied,’ He is working in an MNC bank. We have finalized a girl for his marriage.’ Mrs. Pillai was silently thanking God as the topic had changed and the focus was now on her son. Ms. Sharma’s eyes gleamed as she looked at her and said,’ So everything is sorted?’ Mrs. Pillai nodded and smiled,’ Oh yes….I told you, it was one of a case otherwise we are a very peace loving couple.’
Ms. Sharma: No I am talking about your son’s marriage. Have you discussed everything in details with them? (Clearing her throat) I mean the give and take.
Mrs. Pillai was getting confused and had a perplexed look on her face.
Ms. Sharma: Ask at least for a car I tell you. I know you are so naive; you would not have spoken anything about it. It’s not very late even now. Please call and let them know. Arre bhai you have only one son. He deserves the best.
Just as she finished Mrs. Pillai was staring at her fumbling with words when Abhinav intervened, ‘But Aunty…taking dowry is wrong.’
Ms. Sharma: Who said we are asking for dowry. We are asking for a wedding gift. Now which father will not like to give a wedding gift to his daughter? Tell me. A person gets married only once in lifetime.
Abhinav: (Irritated) I thought you work for an NGO which deals with women related issues.
Ms. Sharma: Yes I do. We work against domestic violence against women. See beta you are an only child. You need to look at your mother’s comfort also. In this age how much running around will she do in a rickshaw. She needs a car. Listen to me and call them right now.
Abhinav: (Angrily) I am capable enough to take care of my mother’s needs. I don’t need anybody else’s help to fulfill them. [And he left the room]
Ms. Sharma: (gruffly) This is the problem with today’s generation. They don’t know anything. They cannot even treat their elders with respect. Saying this she stomped out of their house much to the shock and dismay of Mrs. Pillai.
I was speechless at the other end of the phone not knowing what to say. I was wondering which dictionary or law states accepting gifts from your would be wife’s parents (that too by asking out rightly) is not considered as dowry. This is the common man of our country. Donning a new name they have let the pest called dowry easily exist in our society in its all glory. My friend on the other end cleared her throat to bring back my attention and asked me ,' Now you tell me, how is my new locality?'. The only word I could manage to say was ' Interesting! '