Ramesh was very happy with his life. He lived on a large compound in a mission community and enjoyed spacious grounds and sports facilities provided for the use of residents. Every evening he’d sit with friends on the football field and sing heartily with the group as some of them tried vainly to find right notes on their guitars. During the day he attended a downtown government college as his parents thought it cheaper to educate their children there. They had ambitions their son would enter government service after he’d graduated.
Ramesh lived in a society which practiced strict taboos in dealing with inter-relationships between men and women. He looked forward to his parents someday arranging a suitable wife for him from his own community as that was his lot in life and he’d be satisfied with that. But that goal was about to change. He was required by custom not to be seen moving around with a girl before marriage unless it was some close relative within his caste.
He was also required to follow his father’s directions in all decisions. But Ramesh was now in danger of breaking all the rules of his society.
The father had been informed Ramesh had been seen with a high caste girl at school. The High Cast family pretended to be modern by sending their daughter to a government school but they’d only go so far in compromising their caste mingling with lower castes in school. Ramesh could be killed for his indiscretion, and his father anxiously instructed his son not to be foolish enough to see that girl again.
But love is not always logical, and Ramesh felt his developing relationship with the girl must be love. In his eyes it was so powerful it would eventually transcend all difficulties and override taboos. He continued to meet with his true love in secret. But the eyes of the community are everywhere and it was reported to his father the son was headed for trouble, and by extension the whole family was now in danger. The panic stricken father issued warnings stern and urgent and reinforced the urgency of the matter with a beating.
Ramesh in desperation took the girl with him and disappeared into the melting pot called Mumbai.
For some time, the couple managed to survive and elude capture, but the girl’s father was a man of influence and power and had all the resources of enforcement at his disposal.
The couple were eventually located, the girl placed under house arrest and the boy joined his father in jail where both father and son were charged with abduction on the basis of a written complaint by the girl who under severe beatings was eventually persuaded to write out a complaint.
Life was uncomfortable for Ramesh and his family after that event. The family name had been entered into criminal records and Ramesh became the laughing stock of the peer group he previously fellowshipped with but were now too frightened to include in their meetings.
Eventually the family made a silent retreat to their ancestral village where their former relative prosperity degenerated into subsistence survival.
The girl was considered to have lost caste through her contamination with a lower caste and became a servant in the household, no longer considered to be part of her traditional family and confined to their servant’s quarters. She remained unmarried for the rest of her life.
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