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The Dowry

The Dowry

Dev walking with Raunak

When we hear the word ‘dowry’, it is natural for us to associate it with materialistic gains for the groom’s family from the bride’s family-a curse that has disturbed our society from time immemorial. But a selfless love can change not only the destiny of a person but also reverse a social curse like dowry into a boon. This heartwarming tale by Rhituparna Chakraborty gives us a completely different version of ‘dowry’!

Illustration by Manpreet Chadha

Preparations for the wedding started. Ratna and Sukhbir were immersed in that. They did not want anything wrong to happen in the wedding. Sulochana’s marriage should not have any imperfection. Were they happy? Well, they were in a mixed state of mind. They were happy for Sulochana but again, the happiness came with a price. Yes, price… `THE DOWRY`. Rounak had demanded dowry. It was not easy for Ratna and Sukhbir to give Rounak whatever he demanded. However, it was the only way wherein they could ensure peace and happiness in everyone’s life.

The venue was set perfectly. The priest would arrive in some time. The preparations were as per the demand of Rounak and his family. Rounak was the only child of his parents. His parents loved him to bits and pieces. When Rounak said, he wanted to marry Sulochana, they were surprised. They never knew that the news would come out of the blue. However, they were bewildered with Rounak’s dowry demand. Not that they were not happy, but coming from Rounak, it was astonishing.

The auspicious moment arrived. Ratna and Sukhbir were all ready. Sulochana looked dazzling. The pretty red saree made her look cherubic. The groom and his family arrived. Ratna went ahead to welcome them. Rounak and his parents smiled at Ratna. Sukhbir was waiting beside Sulochana. Sulochana sat on the wedding throne. Rounak came and sat beside Sulochana. Rounak smiled at Sulochana. Sulochana did not respond. Rounak’s parents, along with Ratna and Sukhbir noticed everything. They knew this had to happen.

The priest came and called the Bride and the Groom to the place near the holy fire. Amidst prayers and vows, the wedding took place. After some time, a lawyer came. Rounak signed the papers. Sulochana did not move at all. Ratna gently held Sulochana’s right hand and told Sulochana, ‘Sign this sweetheart.’ Sulochana took the pen and signed the papers. The marriage was solemnized successfully amidst rituals and legal papers as well.

Ratna wiped her tears and so did Sukhbir. Rounak greedily looked around. The sole reason for marrying Sulochana was the dowry he had demanded. The dowry was of paramount importance for him. He greedily looked around. Was the dowry even ready? Ratna and Sukhbir shed silent tears. Parting with Sulochana was not easy and the dowry was immensely difficult for them to give away to Rounak. Ratna got Sulochana’s belongings. Rounak said, ‘Keep them here Maa. I will buy her everything she needs. I need my dowry.’

Ratna wiped her tears. Sukhbir was there with ‘the dowry’. Rounak looked happily at the dowry he demanded. Rounak walked up to Sukhbir and said, ‘I am sorry for doing this. However, I need this. You know why?’ Sukhbir hugged Rounak tight and said, ‘God bless you son. It’s hard for us but this is what is important for Sulochana and Dev.’

Sulochana was a war widow. She lost her soldier husband Rajvir in a war. After that, she lost track of time. She became a living corpse. Time stopped for her. She was under medications and therapy. Dev was her 7 year old son. Dev was an ingenious kid.Rounak realised this when he taught mathematics to Dev in school. Rounak was Dev’s mathematics’ teacher. He realised, with the right guidance Dev will shine in this world. He came to know all about Dev’s family. Being in a transferrable school job, Rounak had to move to a new city. Leaving Dev behind was not the right thing to do. If he did that, there would be no one to guide Dev and Dev would lose all his sparkle.

Rounak never wanted to get married. An accident had left him impotent. He can never have children. In Dev, he saw a child whom he could call his own. Dev loved Rounak and wanted to be with him but he loved Sulochana too. Although Sulochana was a breathing statue, Dev could not think of parting from his mother Sulochana. Ratna and Sukhbir were Rajvir’s parents. They were ageing. They knew, after them, there would be no one to take care of Dev. Rounak was willing to take full responsibility of Sulochana and Dev. Parting from Dev was never easy for Ratna and Sukhbir, but that was the only way to ensure a better future for Dev.

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Rounak held Dev’s hand and said, ‘Shall we go?’ , Dev hugged him and said, ‘Yes, but you had promised me that I will come to see my grandparents often.’ Rounak kissed Dev and said, ‘Yes, of course. You, me, your mom and my parents, all of us will come to see your grandparents often.’ Saying that, Rounak and his parents left for their home with Sulochana and the prized dowry, ‘Dev’.

 

Manpreet ChadhaManpreet Chadha
Manpreet is working as an art teacher in a public school in New Delhi. She has participated in many exhibitions and competitions. Apart from being an artist, she also likes to write verses in Hindi. You can see her paintings and artworks on her Instagram page @mannarts.official

 

 

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