Old men and their love of culture
Somewhere in India, a young lady, distressed by her husband’s behavior, locks herself in the bathroom, pours kerosene over herself, and sets herself afire. The door is broken down — the suicide is unsuccessful.
Two days ago, two male judges of India’s supreme court, had this to say about the female’s attempt at suicide:
‘No husband would ever be comfortable with or tolerate such an act by his wife, and if the wife succeeds in committing suicide, then one can imagine how a poor husband would get entangled into the clutches of law which would virtually ruin his sanity, career, peace of mind, and probably his entire life. The mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences would put a husband under tremendous stress. The thought itself is distressing.’
While one must congratulate Mr. and Mr. Justice on their sympathy for the husband, one wonders that they appear to countenance a situation where the law routinely acts improperly and has nothing to do with justice. So bad is the state of affairs that the Supreme Court uses the phrase ‘clutches of law’, and describes the fate of an innocent who falls into it.
Also remarkable is that these judges highlight the ‘legal consequences’ as stress-inducing, but make no reference to the loss of a spouse, to the horrific death of a spouse, to the fact that a spouse was driven to kill herself. It is probably also stressful to get the stench of kerosene and burnt flesh out of the bathroom towels.
The ‘poor husband’ certainly deserves sympathy, but perhaps the wife too — given that she was driven to end her life? The judgment carries no such expression, alas.
What the judgment  does carry is an attempt to save Indian culture:
‘It is not common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from the parents upon getting married, at the instance of his wife’.
This raises some questions. Should a society leave questions of culture to old men? Who is a Hindu? If a Hindu eats beef, or marries outside his or her caste, does he or she automatically cease to be a Hindu? Does there exist an authority which certifies that one is a Hindu? Is ‘common practice’ a good thing, especially in a brutal country where millions live in wretched conditions?
Poor husband, certainly, but also poor wife, and certainly poor society. O India, one day you shall embrace freedom.