Meena’s family disapproved of her marriage to Deepak, but the couple fought back. Read their story of courage here http://bit.ly/1RzjpSC
Meena refused to be talked into upholding her family’s misplaced sense of honour. Though she reached out to Humsafar for help after her middle class, educated family threatened to kill her for marrying a man of her choice, it was her quick thinking and courage that helped her fight back.
Meena and Deepak had met through common friends in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Her parents were aware of their friendship, and her father had gone as far as to say that he liked Deepak, and would have considered him as a prospective son-in-law had he belonged to the same caste as Meena and her family. A year after the couple met, Deepak was recruited as a cadet in the Merchant Navy, while Meena, having completed her graduation, found a job in the software industry. When her family began to discuss her marriage prospects, the couple decided to get married in January 2011.
“It was not as if we wanted to live together immediately. It was just for security,” she explains.
After the wedding, Deepak approached Meena’s father to discuss a possible match between the two. Angered by this, Meena’s parents began pressuring her to get married. Still unable to gather the courage to tell them that she was married to Deepak already, Meena kept saying no. When the pressure got too much, she fled from her home and met Deepak in Mumbai.
However, the guilt of having hurt her family, and the possibility of a reconciliation brought them back. In Lucknow, Meena’s family pretended that all had been forgiven. A date for the wedding was set and invitations sent out. Yet, four days before the wedding, Meena was tricked into going to the family’s ancestral village in Lalganj.
“A kind of family council happened. I was told to forget all about the past and that there was no escape for me. It was terrifying,” she recalls.
She was made to call Deepak to convey her ‘decision.’ Through a code the two had developed while courting, she managed to convey a veiled message to him. She pleaded with her family to be allowed to appear for her MBA exams in Lucknow, promising to abide by all their conditions.
A posse of armed relatives took Meena to the examination centre in Lucknow. As it was a girls’ college, no men were permitted in. In the college, Meena approached a teacher and asked for help. The teacher took her to the principal who then contacted Humsafar. Getting Meena out of the college was a challenge, as her relatives stood guard at the main gate. The principal offered her car, and Meena was smuggled in it. The next stop was the SSP’s office, where Deepak’s parents were asked to bring proof of the marriage. Realizing the gravity of the problem, the SSP provided police protection to the family with directions that they be covered till the marriage was performed.
Once that was done, the couple breathed easy.
Now living happily with her inlaws, Meena misses her family acutely during festivals. “I had never expected them to react so violently. I was my father’s favourite child, yet he could not understand me,” she despairs.
Her mother-in-law Ram Kali says she tries her best to keep Meena happy despite still feeling scared of what her family might do. “She is like my daughter,” she says.
Meena who is preparing for her MBA exams looks on with a smile, convinced that what she did was right.
Written by: Oxfam India Staff