We know very well that we have been deceived for decades by self-styled religious leaders. They are interfering in all matters. We’re in the 21st century. We know that the earth is not flat. We aren’t narcissistic enough to think that the sun revolves around the earth. When we don’t understand something, we try to science the shit out of it. In today’s world, people can’t fool us to meet their selfish ends.
When it was time to learn to love, they taught us how to hate.
Someone might come to us saying, “Mark your houses with saffron flags and count the Muslims in your neighbourhood. We may need to do something soon.”
Here is a story about two lovers from a different caste.
It was a midsummer night, and it was very hot inside my room. There was no electricity. Drenched in sweat, I was about to fall asleep when my phone vibrated several times. I rejected the calls without looking at my mobile screen. Finally, I checked my phone. It was my friend, Rahul. I took the call. His voice was full of fear. An upper-caste young man, he wanted to marry his girlfriend Priya, who was from a ‘lower’ caste. His parents denied him the right to marry Priya, after a self-styled godman warned them, “If Rahul marries Priya, then you will lose him forever.”
“I was about to convince my parents,” Rahul said on the phone, “but every attempt goes in vain. My parents are too afraid after hearing all this shit from.” He was crying.
“Are your eyes only meant for tears?” I asked him. “You need to fight against this. Do you understand?”
Rahul replied: “I have no time to fight. Next Sunday they are going to marry me to another woman called Radikha.”
He was broken. He wasn’t able to talk with me properly.
I tried to comfort him, telling him that all he needed to do was reject the marriage proposal. “You can’t deceive Priya.” Here, I tried to motivate him with a quote I had once heard: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I told him to trust in God. “He has a better plan for you.”
“Priya’s family is afraid as my parents had sent police to her house,” Rahul confided in me. “She is too weak to handle it all.”
Finally, he disconnected the call, saying we would meet again if God willed it.
I was not able to sleep well, thinking about my best friend. He was always there for me to solve my problems.
I remembered when Rahul and Priya first fell in love. Knowing that this world is a cruel place, I remember asking him if marriage was possible because they were both from different castes. He replied, “Rishtey khoon ke nahi ahsaas ke hote hai (Relationships aren’t about blood, they’re about emotions).” Their love life was so good, and they loved each other unconditionally. There was not a single reasonable demand that could deny their right to love.
When I woke up the next morning, I tried to call Rahul, but his phone was switched off. After sometime, I tried to call him again. I received a recorded message: “The number you have dialed is switched off. Please try again after sometime.” It made me really worried. The day after that, his mobile phone was still switched off. And in the days after that, I still heard the same message. “The number you have dialed is switched off. Please try again after sometime.”
It was Sunday afternoon. My phone was ringing. Instantly I reached for my pocket. I thought it would be Rahul. But it was not him. When I called him for the umpteenth time, his phone was still switched off. I sobbed.
I remembered that Rahul had told me about his marriage, which was scheduled for that very day. I ran towards Rahul’s home. The atmosphere of his home was full of tension. I heard there that Rahul and Priya ran away from the city. His relatives had taken up guns and swords. Rahul’s dad came out and ordered his cousins to kill Rahul and Priya whenever they saw them.
Two days after I went to his house, my a friend told me that Rahul and Priya were killed mercilessly on the main road in front of a crowd.
Editor’s Note: Stories like these exist across India. While our laws give us the right to choose our partner, society still largely refuses to accept inter-caste marriages. Often, when families take matters into their own hands, the punishment for marrying someone of another caste can even be death which result in honour killings. These ‘honour killings’ saw a massive spike of 792% since 2014 (NCRB data). And this is only one form of everyday caste-based violence in marriage. Raise your voice against these different acts of violence. Publish a story here, and we will carry your solutions to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.