Disclaimer: All the Characters and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance of the characters to an actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
28th September, 2004
“This university is proud to award this honorary doctorate to Dr. Kaveri in appreciation to her exceptional contribution to the welfare of women suffering from domestic violence”, read out the chancellor of Nalanda University.
21st August, 1979: 19.55 hours
I was waiting outside the bank after winding up his day’s work and was looking for Sevalai. Sevalai is a 24 year old rickshaw puller who used to drop me back at my residence every day after work around the same time. Sevalai was thin and dark complexed with an average built. His body was toned and was physically fit as he had been pulling rickshaw since 12 years. I am Sridhar and I moved in to Chennai a couple of months back as the General Manager of Indian Bank and I hail from a small village in Karnataka. As my father had agricultural land to take care of back home, I moved here alone. It was slightly drizzling that evening and I had just pulled out his umbrella.
Sorry for being late sir”, told Sevalai on holding my bag and placing it safe in the rickshaw. He guided me to board the cart and got me seated comfortably. He opened up the roof of the rickshaw which was tied at the back and made sure that the drizzles didn't fall on me. He normally doesn't wear shirt and I’ve has always seen him wet. Today he was not just wet with his sweat but also with the little drops of rain on him. When he spoke, I could sense that he had come from the toddy shop as usual. He mentions that he drinks toddy as it was the cheapest drink available and it helps him overcome the pain of rickshaw pulling.
7th January, 1980: 11.35 hours
“The court after hearing the petition from Kaveri and after thorough inspection, it has been clear to the court that Kaveri has been a victim of domestic violence and has been tortured by her husband under the influence of alcohol. As per the section 304B, 406 and 498A of Indian Penal Code, this court accepts the plea of Kaveri for divorce and grants the same to her. The other clauses for the divorce will be granted to both the parties officially through a final verdict in written”. Read out the judge before moving to look into the next inquiry.
Kaveri was briefly happy that the result was in her favor. She never wanted to be in this relationship and now officially she has been set free to do what she wanted to.
21st August, 1979: 20.13 hours
The drizzles slightly gathered its pace to transform into a heavier rain while the pace of Sevalai dropped down as he wasn’t able to pedal the rickshaw against the wind. Sridhar urged him to stop the rickshaw on a side and by the time they stopped, the rain had gathered full momentum and the downpour was at its peak. Sevalai looked so tired and was a little dizzy. He seemed like he was about to faint. I saw him fainting and held him from falling down. As it was raining heavily, the water droplets which fell on his face were keeping him awake but he was slightly unconscious. I have always advised him not to drink toddy in empty stomach. As the rain started to slow down, I held him on my shoulders and walked to the rickshaw. I put him on the back seat and pulled it on my own. I had a fair idea of the area he lived in but had no idea of where his house was. As he was partly awake, I asked him for a little guidance but he wasn’t able to respond properly. Once I reached his area I inquired for his house and with the help of the other local men there, we finally reached his house.
It was a small hut with thatched sheets on the top and was in a very tiny street. The place outside was so filthy and the door was a thin tin sheet. When knocked a young beautiful women pulled off the sheet to look outside. It was almost close to pitch dark but even in that darkness her face was shining. I have read about angels in book and have always believed they live in heaven but for once, I realized that angels doesn’t existing and only this young female does. She was Kaveri, Sevalai’s wife. I fell in love with the girl the moment I saw her and was so worried about her fate. I didn’t have an eye contact with her as she was so shy and she helped in getting Sevalai inside the house. She said thanks before I departed.
7th January, 1980: 12.15 hours
Kaveri and I went around the chamber to collect the papers while Sevalai was waiting outside the court premises. While handing over the documents to us, the Judge looked up Kaveri and asked her, “What is your qualification?” “I have done my PUC sir”, responded a confident Kaveri. It was very evident that Judge was impressed with the way Kaveri had fought and responded throughout the case in getting her divorce. “Why did you do this Kaveri?” asked the Judge and she held her head high up and said “Love sir!” I believe that “Love is something which can overcome anything and is beyond anyone’s understanding” said Kaveri. The judge could see the confidence in her eyes and was speechless.
10th September, 1979: 20.15 hours
Sevalai was on cloud nine seeing a Johnnie Walker Red Label brand premium scotch on my table. His face had so much brightness and happiness that day which probably he would have had while marrying Kaveri. “Sir, seema sarakku sir” [Sir, Foreign Liquor sir], exclaimed Sevalai. I said him that this is all his and I’ll also give him 2 more bottles. All I needed was a thumb impression of him on return. He was uneducated and was happy to offer what I had asked him. He drank all his life out on that night before returning home.
12th December, 1979, 10.30 hours
The local police men arrest Sevalai on a petty theft case and the circle inspector rang to inform me that Sevalai has been arrested. It was a part of my plan to get him in so that I can use this time to rescue Kaveri from his house. I also had arranged for a marriage certificate between me and Kaveri with the help of the Sub Registrar as he had his bank account with our branch. With a lot of happiness and with a sense of relieving Kaveri from a disastrous life she was going through in that filthy slum I went to her home. When she saw me, she was crying to me that Sevalai was arrested by the police. She had now known me better as I kept visiting her once in a while with Sevalai after the day I first met her. I consoled her and asked her to come with me and took her to my house.
She refused to eat and drink anything. While I was surprised about her worry, I asked her whether she was happy living with Sevalai. She wept and said that she was deeply in love with him and he was her guard right from her younger age. While Sevalai wanted to get her married to a well educated person she was the one who insisted him to marry her and she elaborated the way their life had progressed and the amount of love she had over Sevalai.
I intervened to ask her,” Sevalai drinks a lot, doesn’t he beat you when he comes home?” and her response was, “He never ever touched me with hatred till date and how much ever he drinks, he maintains his humanitarian ship”. She kept on adding a lot about her love over him through the incidents they had come across which made me look tinier and tinier in front of Sevalai. When she finished I was ashamed of the fact that I had made such an effort to not only separate them but also to abduct Kaveri.
I told her the truth and also told her that I had wrongly assumed her interactions with me during my visits to her place and felt that she would be interested if I propose to marry her. She was shocked to listen to me and I pleaded her to hear me out completely before reacting. I promised her that I will put in my effort to get Sevalai out of the jail and also legally apply for a divorce among us and advised her to file a complaint against me for using domestic violence on her. She felt it a little confused but agreed to follow whatever I said after convincing her that I am now helping her in getting Sevalai out.
7th January, 1980: 12.35 hours
“The court after investigating thoroughly rules that Sevalai is a victim of suspicion and has not been found guilt over the charges against him. He is freed from the charges and the court orders for his immediate release”, read the judge before moving to the next case.
While I was waiting outside the premises for Sevalai, Kaveri asked me not to disclose anything that happened to Sevalai. Sevalai walked out with pride and also joy towards me and thanked me. He was eagerly looking to see Kaveri and asked me where she was? I said that she was just around and we both were looking for her. I told him that probably she would have gone home to give you a warm welcome and advised him to head home.
7th January, 1980: 14.15 hours
I was looking at the files which were lying on my table with a little bit of contemplation on whatever happened. Suddenly saw Sevalai rushing towards my desk. For a moment, I was threatened as if he had known what happened and is coming to hit me but when he came closer, I could see his face was full of tears.
“Sir, Kaveri fled away”.