Thursday, February 17, 2011

A matter of honour


Honour killings are blight to the society. Innocent young couples are slaughtered in the name of honour, their only fault being that they fell in love with someone who unfortunately hailed from a different caste or the same gotras of the same caste as theirs. Honour killings are usually carried out under the guidance of a Khap Panchayat to pay the price for assaulting the society by inter-caste or intra-gotra marriage.
We have demonstrated the damage caused by this menace in a short play named “A matter of honour” where a Sarpanch of a village panchayat who initially shares the beliefs of Khap Panchayat and honour killings but undergoes a change towards the end. It starts off in this way.
Suresh, a young man is in love with Ashwini, who alas belongs to the same “gotra” as his, and this happens in a society, where such kind of matrimony purports a nuptial bond between a brother and a sister. Here, we have Suresh conversing with Naren, his friend.
Suresh: They will never accept our relationship, and the only solution is to run away.
Naren: But, why do you need to run away?
Suresh: We belong to the same gotra. Do you know what that even means? That makes us brother and sister in front of the society!
Naren: Is the risk worth it? I’m really worried.
[They walk out of the room. But, Suresh’s sister Geeti overhears them.]
Geeti(to herself): Oh my god! What is my brother up to? I must tell Ma and Baba right now!
[Without taking a breath, she rushes to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chaurasia.]

Geeti: Ma! Baba! Bhaiyya is planning to run away with a girl of our gotra!!
Mr. Chaurasia: What? You must be mistaken.
Geeti: No Baba, I heard it with my own ears. We have to stop him right now.
Mrs. Chaurasia: My son! He can never do such a thing. He has always been high on his values.
Mr. Chaurasia : Whatever it is, we cannot let our son spoil our reputation.
Geeti: Baba, let’s hurry up.
[They rush to the next room to find their son packing his bags.]
Mr. Chaurasia: So it is true! You ARE running away! How dare you put your family to shame?
Mrs. Chaurasia: Beta, didn’t it hurt your conscience even once? Think about us and your little sister!
Suresh: Ma, Baba! I did not mean to hurt you, but she’s a very decent girl and most importantly I love her.
Mr. Chaurasia: Enough is enough! How do u even have the nerve to argue with us? Now only the Khap Panchayat can give us justice.
Suresh: No Baba.....Please listen....
[They confine him to a room and head off to the Khap Panchayat.]
Mrs. Chaurasia: A great misfortune has befallen upon us. Our family’s name is at stake.
Sarpanch: What’s wrong? Tell me!!
Mr. Chaurasia: How to begin? I’m so ashamed of my son’s deeds.
(They tell the Sarpanch what their son has been planning to do.)
Sarpanch: This has never happened in this village and as long as I am alive, I will not let it happen.
Villager 1: They should be banished from the village itself.
Villager 2: Technically, they are brother and sister, the girl should be made to tie a rakhi to the boy.
(Everybody nod in unison.)
Sarpanch: There is only one solution to this disgrace. They should be killed so that nobody dares to take such a heinous step again and defy the society.
Mr. & Mrs. Chaurasia: But we don’t even know who the girl is!
(Narrator: The Sarpanch sends policemen to find out the whereabouts of the girl in question.)

Policeman 1 (beating up Suresh): Who is the girl? Tell us.
Policeman 2: Or we’ll crack every bone in your bone in your body.
Suresh: I’ll die but won’t tell you who she is!
Policeman 1 to policeman 2: Search this place. We might find something.
(Narrator: After searching down Suresh’s room, they finally find a photograph of the girl and the boy but have a hard time believing their eyes.)

(The policemen rush to the Sarpanch’s house. The Sarpanch is having a good chat with his only daughter who is none other than Ashwini, Suresh’s lover.)
Policeman: We found the girl, Suresh’s lover, Sarpanchji. She is.... er.... she is........
Sarpanch: She is?
Policeman: She’s your daughter Sarpanchji.
Ashwini: Suresh, what has happened to him? Is he all right?
Sarpanch(shocked) : Ashwini!! How could you betray your father? Is that what I have taught you all these years?
Ashwini: Baba, I didn’t want to.... I just don’t know how....(cries)...
Sarpanch: Get out of my sight!
Ashwini: Baba I really love him! I can xplain....
Sarpanch: OUT!! NOW!!
(Narrator: The Sarpanch is in a dilemma. We all realise the intensity of some misfortune happening to somebody only if we are at the receiving end. Ashwini, being the Sarpanch’s only daughter whom he has raised singlehandedly, after her mother’s demise, she means the world to him. On the other hand, he cannot be a hypocrite in front of the society. But is his self-proclaimed ethics worth his little girl. It is now that he recognises the plght of others who have been through the same. It is now that he decides that the menace of honour killing should be curbed. He goes to his daughter who has been packing to leave the house.)
Sarpanch: Beti, I have committed a huge blunder by letting my emotions get the better of me. But now I realise how wrong I am.
Ashwini: Baba, I too am sorry for keeping things from you. I really love you and never wanted to hurt you. But Suresh is a decent guy and we are confident about our future together.
(Narrator: This is what had happened in a small village where the Sarpanch got rid of one the biggest current social evils. Hope this serves as a message to many.)