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A Rare Tribe

Embracing Rapist’s Child

Sankara Narayanan

A report dating Sep 16 2015 in The Times of India newspaper under the heading 'I embraced the child of my wife's rapist' struck this Correspondent like a Tsunami. Here are a few similar stories with characters of rare courage, conviction and kindness. Two are reel-based and the other two real ones.

‘Adimagal’ is the title of a Malayalam movie of mid-1960s. ‘Adimagal’ means a female domestic help. Lead actors were Satyan, Prem Nazir, Sheela and Sharada. All the four were outstanding actors of that time and bagged several regional, national and international awards. Sharada alone bagged 4 or 5 Urvasi Awards.

The story goes like this. Satyan is an army officer. Sheela and her brother are his neighbours. Sharada works as a domestic help in Sheela's house. Prem Nazir is another domestic help in the same house; a dumb fellow. Sheela's brother loves the domestic help. Nazir also has a crush towards her. She prefers the former. The love episode ends with pregnancy.

But the brother drops her like a hot potato owning no responsibility for the pregnancy. She moves Satyan seeking justice. He is to go back to his duty after the expiry of the annual leave. Being in a hurry, he requests the dumb domestic help to take care of her for the time being. Swallowing all the insults thrown

by the villagers and his own mother, he shelters the pregnant woman in his house. She delivers a child subsequently. He takes care of the mother and child to the best of his ability.

Satyan comes home after one year. By the time, the brother realises his mistake and admits he is the father of that child. He also wants to formally marry the woman. Brother, sister and Satyan reach Nazir's hut and request the lady to come along with them. She briskly moves towards the dumb, clasps his hands for the first time and nonchalantly tells, "The one thing you did alone does not qualify you to be the father of my child. Putting up with all the insults thrown at him, this man took care of this child as his own. He is the proud father of this child. I am his woman. You may go." Satyan immediately exclaims, "Iva Sthree" (She is the real woman).

Now on an unusual & low budget Hindi movie: Tabu did the lead role. Tabu, her husband and a son form a cheerful family. The son completes his studies and settles down in work. He loves a girl and the marriage is fixed with the full cooperation of the parents. A disaster in the form of a will left by an unknown man leaving all his property to the son strikes the family.

It is hotly debated who is that person. Tabu reluctantly reveals an accidental one night affair she had with a person years ago and doubts he may be the one who left the will. Father & son get furious, abuse the mother and ask her to leave the house. On hearing the news, the girl-friend rushes to their place and squarely condemns the attitude of the father & son. She tells him that she would never marry such a low person. Holding Tabu's hands, she tells, "Common on Mummy. I am with you. Let us get out of these beasts."

Now the real incidents:
During partition time, several Hindu and Muslim women were molested by vandals. Mahatma Gandhi requested the youth to come forward to marry the unwed ones. He told them that it was the real test for one's manliness. Several youth had accepted the challenge and proved their manliness.

Bharat Ratna Sir Mokshagundam Viswesvaraia was not only a great engineer but also an outstanding human being. His wife loved his coachman and moved with him. In spite of the sad incident, the great engineer continued to support her financially. What a great generosity!

Coming back to the main story as revealed by The Times of India :Story is real but characters are given imaginary names. Nitin and Rani got married seven years ago. Ragini, their 6-year-old cute daughter, was born nine months after the marriage. Nitin was absolutely thrilled. His only grudge was that Rani spent most of her time in her mother's place in the first few years after marriage. Ragini was admitted in the school and Rani’s visits to her parents considerably came down. A family blessed with plenty of peace and cheerfulness.

Rani suggested having one more child. Nitin readily agreed. One year passed but Rani was not able to conceive. They got themselves tested for fertility. The test report suggested that Nitin's sperm count was zero. She couldn't curtail her tears. He empathised with her and apologised for not being able to give her another child, she wanted the most at that point of time.

"I am sorry that you cannot become a mother again, all because of me. But you've given me such a wonderful gift in the form of our daughter, and I'll always be thankful to you for that," Nitin said to her, with a heart full of love. But what she told him after that shook him completely. "She is not your daughter. She was born because a man raped me." He was shocked beyond words. Lost all his senses and went blank for a moment.
She broke down and started to relate the horrific incident. "In my home town, a local goon wanted to marry me. But I refused. Later, when our wedding was arranged he couldn't accept the rejection. A few days before our wedding, he abducted me while I was coming back from the college. He raped me out of revenge and later threw me near the house. He told me and my parents that he had taught us a lesson."

After that she continued to reveal more : "When I missed my periods, I was already married to you and in our honeymoon period. And when you discovered my pregnancy, I could not get it aborted.' She took a deep pause. After the pause, she said, "For first years of our marriage, I was attending the court sessions with my parents, to get him punished." She paused again. Well, that explained Nitin why her long absence from the house every now and then. She retired into the room after speaking the last sentence, "I will always feel guilty about the fact that our daughter was not fathered by you. That is why I wanted to have another child with you, as the father."

Nitin had no words in his mouth, he went mute. After introspecting the situation, which had shaken him beyond imagination, he realized the torment Rani went through for all these- years, facing everything all by herself. She had flashbacks of her rape coming to hound her. She couldn't hate the child she had given birth to. She had gone through much more trauma than the shock he was trying to gulp down his throat. What happened was not her fault. It was the fault of her rapist. And what was the mistake of the little one he remembers holding in his hands while her umbilical cord still dangled to her tiny body?

That day he decided to undo the wrongs done to his wife by loving 'their' daughter to death.

Incidents of above nature happen in every street, village, town and city. Yet people act as if nothing happens. If at all exposed, the society doesn’t hesitate to crucify the women involved through cruel words like Izat Loss, Kalank, Zinda Lash etc and ready to condemn and desert them. In the midst of such sanctimonious medieval hypocrisies, the servant couple in ‘Adimagal’, the young girl in the Hindi film, the youth who acceded to Gandhi's request, Sir Viswesvaraia and Nitin were/are bringing fresh air, fragrance and hope to the humanity. Let the tribe multiply in geometric proportions.

Frontier
Vol. 48, No. 25, Dec 27, 2015 - Jan 2, 2016