Last I heard of my friend L more than a year ago, she was pregnant with her second child. She has been incommunicado ever since.
I met L at my first job after graduation and we became close friends. She was known as S then. Her name meant dream and dreamer she was. A talented artist, she was timid and shy but had big dreams of making it on her own. She so wanted to break free from the clutches than often bind girls, from small towns in India, in the name of tradition. She was successful in part too! She had managed to convince her parents to let her study and then find employment in the city as big as New Delhi. But the questions about marriage still lingered in the back ground. Consider it her misfortune that by the age 24 she had already had ten marriage interviews and rejections. As if the pain of rejection was not enough, the blame was put on her and she had to see her parents burdened by increasing dowry demands with each passing year. May be that is what made her determined even more to find her own niche.
Soon her parents found a suitable match and despite her wishes she was married to this good looking, well settled guy in New Delhi. She was given a new name , a new identity and a new life- all I am not sure she was happy with. Life in a joint family required some adjustment but she did it all to please her family. I was married few months after her and moved to distant shores but we always kept in touch through phone and emails. She was trying to make the most of her situations and trying to rise above her daily household routine. Of course it was stupidity to fit an arranged marriage with in the notions of romance; she said; Foolish also to seek friendship in a marriage. It had been made clear that she would never be allowed to work. The only time she was ever allowed to step outside or drive a car was with family or to drop her son, then 3, to play school. She once mentioned she suspected her emails were being monitored. Her emails were reducing, her voice was growing silent and the pain increasing.
Two years ago, a common friend P joined L for her son’s birthday party. What P told me was heart breaking. L was alone in a sea of people. Every time the two stood together L’s husband whisked her away. P confirmed my fears she was being kept away from everyone. Early in 2011, her mobile phone stopped woking, her facebook profile was deleted and her email address was suspended. All I now have is her mother’s phone number and despite my repeated requests have not been allowed any contact with her. I told her mom I just wanted to speak to L once to know that she is okay. I was aghast her mom said it wasn’t such a good idea and she would pass my message to her ( I don’t think L ever got that message!)
I hope and pray that she is not facing any physical violence but this is for sure that she has been confined and not being allowed to meet or talk to any of her friends from before. I do not know how to handle this situation ( there are no ‘well being checks’ I can ask the cops or women’s organizations to do without creating a scandal of sorts!) . I feel extremely sad on loosing on a friendship. I can only hope that she is safe and has found friends & happiness – that her marriage relation is healing.
If someday she happens to find this blog post, I hope she knows I love her very much and wish the best for her. She doesn’t have to say much, I only want to know that she is okay!