By Oxfam India:
I was undaunted in the face of my family’s ire when I decided to marry by my own choice. My partner, Ravi, belonged to a different caste and hailed from a weaker economic background. He was someone my parents would never approve of. They pleaded. They threatened. But I was not scared. They had no idea that their daughter was made of sterner stuff and would stick by her decision.
We got married in a court in August 2012. I was in the second year of graduation when I returned home, and he left for Lucknow where he worked in a store that sold auto-parts. A couple of months later, I left for Lucknow under the pretext of meeting a friend. When my parents found out, they tracked me down and forced me to return home. I was asked to ‘forget’ about the marriage. To them my marriage was like a toy, easily discarded and replaced. I was left stunned. I always knew that my parents would be angry about my decision, but I had hoped that at the end of the day, they would forgive me.
After living for five days with them, I realized that they will not accept my marriage under any circumstances and thus I fled from home.
After reaching Lucknow, we approached Humsafar. By then, my family had filed an FIR against Ravi and his father for kidnapping me. This was followed by repeated phone-calls from both our families; they asked us to return and sort out the issue. Despite being advised by our case workers at Humsafar against returning to meet our parents, we decided to go to Hardoi to see them, imagining that our families had come around.
Rest happened as expected. Ravi was arrested. I was sent back home.
When produced before the magistrate, despite the pressure from my family, I rubbished the kidnapping claims and made it clear that I wanted to live with my husband. As I expressed my unwillingness to go back to my parents, I was sent to the Nari Niketan in Lucknow.
Now the challenge was to get Ravi safely to Lucknow, given that my family was keeping a close watch on him. This was achieved with help from the police and from an organization in Hardoi. I was then provided with legal help to file a case against my family for threatening Ravi. I also filed a writ with the High Court asking for the FIR against my husband to be quashed.
Despite the hope of a legal victory, the dark clouds of fear still loom over us. My parents threaten to kill us. My in-laws don’t want to have anything to do with us. We are hesitant to make any friends or to discuss our past with anyone. We even avoid crowded places and keep to ourselves.
I worked as a domestic help for sometime before joining Humsafar, where I now work as an administrative assistant. I am also preparing to take the police entrance exams. The company of fellow survivors bolsters my courage.
The soured relation with my family, relatives and the loss of friends has not made me regret my decision to marry Ravi even once. It was my right and nobody should have the power to dictate otherwise.