Hamlet Fears a Dowry Case

An NRI husband wrote to me one day a few weeks ago about his unusual problem. The problem is unusual but not unique. He wants to get out of a marriage which he entered due to some lapse of judgement or some family pressures or some mysterious reason which he himself is unable to fathom. He told me that he interacted with the girl –with whose family they were having discussions– for a period of about one year before agreeing to the marriage. Their talks per him never progressed beyond talking about the weather and other similarly meaningless stuff. The main things which made the match look attractive he said were that they are both good looking, both earn well, and both have matching temperaments. He was not in love with her but he agreed to marry her. This is what he told me. Another thing which he told me is that he belongs to a profession in which people usually get very big salaries.

After they got married, he took her to China to live with him, and he claimed that he never tried to have physical relations with her during the four months that she was there with him. He realised that he could not live with a woman who he did not truly love. At the same time he started developing fears of dowry torture allegations(, and perhaps even abetment to suicide, or dowry death allegations if she were to kill herself or to die mysteriously). He talked to her one day finally, and told her that he was not in love with her, and that he was willing to reimburse her for any expenses incurred, and to pay her as some sort of restitution for the suffering undergone by her and her family. She agreed very sweetly, and they flew back to Delhi –where they had talks with her father and tau. The tau advised him to think about the matter for one more month before taking a final step towards divorce.

He wrote to me during this month of contemplation advised by his wife's family elder. He was going through great mental trauma due to the fear of a criminal case and the conflict between this fear and the fear of having to spend the rest of his life with a woman who he does not love. He made no mention of the guilt of trying to destroy a woman's life, but this can perhaps be read as an implicit factor in his current mental stress if one can muster any amount of sympathy for such an individual. The fact is that he had a year of interaction with this woman to tell her no. He nevertheless chose to marry her and then ditch her. This was not a marriage which was organised in a hurry. This displays deep narcissism and a criminal disregard for the mental health of another person and her family.

Readers might be upset at my severe criticism of this man. Some who have read anything approaching a substantial amount of my work might feel that such a judgmental attitude is against my nature. I plead guilty. Actually I carried out a small question-answer session to see this man's real nature. It was evidently quite awful, and I could not make out any significant redeeming feature in it. The woman is actually rather nice, and I told him as much –but he does not deserve her in his present avatar and the law of karma is such that he will not have her. However I am seriously worried about this man's mental health and fear that he may go mad or try to hurt himself at some unpredictable point in the not so far away future. His dilemma was tearing him apart and he was deeply afraid. I advised him to seek high quality psychiatric care as soon as possible. He thanked me to whatever extent his nature permitted him.

I felt that this man was probably going through some sort of torture inflicted by a more severe narcissist than himself, almost certainly a sexually experienced woman. I told him this, although in not so many words –adding that this is rendered more likely by the fact of his being in a high paying job. He was not such a seriously wishy-washy man since his childhood, but later events have made him crumble. I also told him that the fact that he never tried to establish sexual relations with his wife showed that he was under some sort of fear from the very beginning of the marriage. He denied most things I said but he commented that I possess deep insight into human nature and psychology. Such things come with experience. People who are going to sit in judgement over this man if his case ever comes to the notice of the Law are also likely to be experienced people, and they will see through his game.

But the redeeming feature for this man is that his wife appears to be a very well-adjusted person, and as such is unlikely to take recourse to the legal route just to punish him. There is quite certainly no 304b at the end of this particular road, and most likely no 498a either. But can we indeed call this a redeeming feature? He has lost her, this much is certain; and the fact that he has lost her is very severe punishment for him. Earthbound law does not have any punishment which can match this terrible blow –invisible though it is to him at present.

His case brought back painful memories, and I have had no choice but to remember Kipling's immortal words as I have written this account—
"And I am a Follower of the Way. The sin is mine and the punishment is mine....Now I am sorrowful because thou art taken away and my River is far from me. It is the Law which I have broken!" and again "Just and sure is the Wheel, swerving not a hair!"His Lama to Kim
More words by the same writer, only this time he is a poet—
Parsons in pulpits, tax-payers in pews,
Kings on your thrones, you know as well as me,
We've only one virginity to lose,
And where we lost it there our hearts will be!
The broader question which arises here is why do men in India do this to themselves and their families, especially in situations where the boy and girl are not permitted to interact for a reasonable period of time before saying yes or no. The short answer is social pressure and an inability to differentiate between non-serious and serious women. There is always an undercurrent of pressure to say yes in arranged marriage discussions. On top of this our society has put women on a pedestal, where they cannot be considered to be liars or crooks. Think a bit and you will see that this man is not the only person in your knowledge who is suffering due to this phenomenon. This is a very poor situation for a society to find itself in. I hope that we get out of it and I personally am working to make this hope come true. What about you?

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Published by Manish Udar

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Last updated on 15th April 2014
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