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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Arushi Talwar - Prelude to a Problem

Arushi Talwar was killed in cold blood by none other than her own father. No matter what the arguments are on the motive behind the crime the act of murder itself remains as irredeemable as ever. When seen in the light of the love, affection and bonding that characterizes a father-daughter relationship and the manner in which all these tenets of parenting was brutally abused it seems that bit more gruesome, heinous and repulsive. While one half of the shocked viewership demands for ‘exemplary punitive action’ the other half delves into deciphering the hints that this incident provides to ‘the bigger picture’.

The Police say that Rajesh Talwar killed his 14 year old daughter and their domestic help in a fit of rage on seeing them in ‘an objectionable position’. No father could have gone back to business after such an incident, of course, but is that reason enough to prompt an otherwise loving father to slit his daughter’s throat in cold blood. I believe not. The very fact that a 14 year old sought solace in the company of a friendly household help tells us a story- A story which is not uncommon in many of the ‘upwardly mobile’ middle class homes of Indian metros. A story of mindless ambition, aspirations, neglect and stress. A story of disintegrating families, values and morals. While soul searching in times of oppressive stress is a heck of a stiff ask but a doctor who is supposed to hold his own even at the sight of blood and flesh could have done better than murder for sure, that too in the name of ‘Honor Killing’. If ever there was a feebler excuse for murder, more obnoxious in appearance and more odious in nature I would be surprised. Why didn’t the doctor feel sorry in the first place that he was not able to inculcate in his own daughter the values of chastity, modesty and reserve that he seemingly cherishes so much? Why didn’t the fact drown him in shame that it was due to his own neglect and complete disregard for his daughter’s needs of love and affection that she had to turn to someone he would disapprove of ? Why didn’t Rajesh Talwar have the decency of committing suicide to relieve him of his failures? The very fact that he showed scant regard for such probing questions before acting in such brutal a manner shows craven escapism and irresponsibility on his part.

With further unraveling of facts Arushis’s story becomes increasingly an alarming study into the Great Indian Middle Class, its fast shifting paradigms and its associate evils. As debate rages over the more disconcerting pointers that her murder provides to our lifestyles one wonders if we need a dead Arushi every week to shake us up from our slumbers of false contentment and introspect. May be Rajesh Talwar will feign derangement or use his influence to go scot free, may be he will be nailed and punished. Whichever way the verdict turns out the collective whole of us need to think which way we are heading. And fast.