By staying in her father-in-law’s house, she is reminded everyday of the tragedy

Caste wars For young Kausalya life after her husbands killing has been a struggle
news Caste Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 17:03

On the morning of 12th May, Sankar's family rushed Kausalya to the nearby hospital. She confessed that she had consumed pesticide the previous night and really wanted to die. 

“For the past few days, she was chanting, “I don’t want to live anymore. I don’t want to be here.” We thought it was normal of her to feel that way because of what had happened. So we did not say anything. But we never thought it would come to this,” Sankar’s brother said. 

It has been nearly two months since Kausalya's husband, Dalit youth Sankar was brutally murdered in the middle of a market in Udumalpet. He was hacked to death by a group of men on a bike allegedly hired by Kausalya's family. Coming from a caste-Hindu background, her family was vehemently opposed to her marrying a Dalit man. Her father, mother and grandfather are currently in jail. Kausalya lives with Sankar's father, brothers and grandmother.

Initially, Kausalya was provided psychological counselling on the request of doctors treating her at the ICU. 

A psychiatrist was fixed for the family and they were asked to take her for counselling. But they were caught up with making their ends meet – college, job, something constantly came up. And it became increasingly difficult for them to accompany her. “After a point, she gave up on counselling,” he said. 

Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence.org, regularly meets the family and has been trying to help Kausalya relocate. Kathir feels that by staying in her father-in-law’s house, she is reminded everyday of the tragedy. “She has been far too sheltered to even think of anything else other than that day. She is young, she can work and study. But by staying here, she can do neither and only think about this all day,” he says, adding, “We feel a change of place is important and we have been trying to arrange that for her. It is all left to Kausalya, but she isn’t budging.” 

She is still in a state of grief, Sankar’s brother says. “She keeps counting the days since it happened. She doesn’t want to show anyone how she feels.” An official chargesheet has been filed two days ago, and she is under pressure by the police to stay in Udumalpet and not leave until the case is closed. 

It’s not just about living, it’s about living with dignity, with a job and without being haunted by 15th March, says Kathir. “But everyone expects her to pick her life up and move on, and just be grateful that she is living,” he says. 

An excerpt from Kausalya’s conversation with Kathir 

“Shankar's dead. None of his friends turned up for his funeral. The whole world watched the CCTV recording of the gruesome hacking of Shankar and me. After receiving treatment for my grievous injuries, I sit here as a walking corpse.

I thought what my parents had for me was love. I realize today that it's love for the caste... will caste ever end?

Many demand that the government should give me an education, job, and protection. I am grateful to them. I might get all this and it could be a new life for me, but what does one do with caste that made me lose my life in the first place?

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