Nirupama Pathak Could Have Lived…

. 5/8/10

By Smita Mishra

Murder cannot be justified in any way. It becomes more heinous, obnoxious and abhorrent if it is executed by a parent and the victim is an unsuspecting child.

A young girl who was a budding journalist, who had the calibre to get selected in the country’s top journalism institute, who worked with a reputed daily and who was in love with her classmate had no reason to die. Suicide didn’t really seem to be on her mind.

The role of her family is very suspicious and her mother, howsoever distraught she may seem, cannot be spared from the onus of committing a crime so heinous if that is the case. Her brother vehemently denies the charges, claiming that his and his family members’ hands be cut off if the allegation against them is proved. The police claims to have recovered vital clues to nail the family.

They have a vital testimony from a neighbour who was the first person to enter the scene of crime after hearing the screams of Nirupama’s mother and saw the hapless girl lying on bed with water sprinkled on her face and pillow.

As a victim of smothering bleeds from nose and mouth, the water may have been used to wipe away blood stains. There indeed was a mark on her neck, but no rope or cloth was found around it and the mother was the only person inside the house at that time. Police claim that the scarf used in the alleged suicide was brought by Nirupama's mother from another room.

While it is difficult for a 54 year old woman to kill a 22 year old alone, there are many loopholes in the family’s version of the girl’s death.

But should her boyfriend, who calmly gives interviews on television channels, who expresses his ‘unawareness’ about her being three month-pregnant and who seems more like a detached friend who is upset with her killing but not really moved to a degree one is after losing one’s soul mate, not be held responsible for callousness and indifference?

He had pledged to marry her and did not talk to her for a week when she went away, knowing well the situation at her home.

Nirupama was an innocent victim of her ambitions, her background, the mentality of her family and the irresponsibility of her partner and to an extent her own recklessness.

Very few of us know about the place from where Nirupama came. The place, as well as her upbringing, had a huge bearing on her fate. Tilaya is a small town in Jharkhand with a population having a mindset deeply rooted in narrow views and beliefs that discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion and sex.

She must have been a loveable daughter, the star of her family that they decided to send her to Delhi to pursue a journalism course. How much time the family must have taken to adjust to the idea of her becoming a journalist, I can understand. For in Bihar and Jharkhand, people hold with esteem only Sarkari jobs! And they consider journos as poor jhola clad people who drink chai at road side dhabas as they have no money in their pockets and no work to do.

But Nirupama made it to the IIMC, also bagged a job with a prestigious business daily, though her family wished to see her join electronic media.

All seemed to go well in the life of this small town girl, till love wrought ruin for her. It is understandable for a 22 year girl to fall in love with a classmate, it understandable for her to harbor dreams of marriage, it is understandable for her not to pay heed to the meaningless shackle of caste but, it is difficult to imagine why such a young girl, instead of concentrating on her career, chose to live with a guy she met not very long ago, why she was so desperate about marriage and bringing a child in this world when both she and her boyfriend were not in a position to take so much responsibility?

I am a Brahmin and a Bihari and also a journalist like Nirupama. I know how difficult it is for our relatives in our native places to explain to acquaintances about how their girl is managing on her own in a big town. Things are very easy for me here. I can do anything I like with the freedom and money I have, but it is difficult for the parents there who have sent their children in hope for a better future. They are part of a system which believes in things we defy and they are tied to it.

It is true that no one should be denied the right to love and choose one’s life partner. When children move to bigger cities, their narrow mindsets evolve into broader ones and the things that worry and disturb their parents seem immaterial to them. But they simply cannot cut the roots that give them the strength to climb up tall heights. They cannot and should not alienate themselves from their family.

After all who pays for their educational fees and hostel expenses? Who nurses them, looks after them and cares for them all their life? There is no need to return this favour by marrying a person of their choice but at least they can wait for the right time to break this difficult news.

If a well settled, mature professional decides to marry a person of his or her choice, he or she has every right to take a decision. But if a girl, barely out of college, begins living with her boyfriend, completely forgetting the background from which she came and becomes pregnant, it is but natural for her parents to react.

The reaction was terrible and Nirupama lost her life and with her went away all those unfulfilled dreams that she must have nurtured through her childhood and youth.

But why did she have to be so fast and rash? Why could she not wait? We cannot change the mindset of the society. But we can wait and be patient. You can fight, react and get away with whatever you want only when you are strong and affluent. Nirupama could have waited to become that. She had the tools to become successful but she departed, leaving them all untouched and unexplored…

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