I can still vividly recall my 9 year daughter playing in our backyard. Her cheerful smile, her tender touch, her innocent concern they all often come to back to me with mixed emotions. It's a feeling of being caught in the dogma of half empty and half full. The thought of my daughter makes me feel complete yet her absence always leaves emptiness inside me. Neena was (is) very dear to us and the lives of my husband and I revolved around our only child.
It was a usual summer day in the March of 1996. She had just received her class 4th result and was looking forward to the beginning of a new session at school. She had performed well in her exams and had been awarded a trophy of being the best all rounder. She was kicked about her new books, the new friends she was going to make this year, the new teacher she was going to meet. That night having finished our dinner we called it a day.
The next morning when I went to wake up Neena she was nowhere to be found. I frantically phoned my husband who had just left for work and raised an alarm about Neena's absence. He immediately returned home. We called up the police and spent our entire day looking for her. In the hope of getting some clue about our daughter by the end of the month we had contacted anyone and everyone we could think of. We had published missing ads in every possible daily, flashed her picture on every news channel but no one came to take responsibility of our missing child. It seemed as if Neena had disappeared into nothingness. My most prized possession had been taken away from me and there wasn't a face I could put against it. After a few days we got a call. Our daughter's dead body had been found on NH 8. The next day the police came & arrested my husband for killing our daughter. I didn't know what was happening. I was too numb to react. I could see our life crumble like a castle of cards.
Being implicated for your own daughter's murder is no less than being tortured to death. You die everyday. All of a sudden our personal loss had become a sensation for the entire gamut of people. The character, beliefs & the very existence of our family was being questioned. The entire society & all its constituents with a strong belief that they were participating in an issue which affected their lives got involved, each day transcending every line which separates an individual from the society. Undoubtedly, each individual is a part of the society and whether we accept it or not individual behavior is determined by social norms and more. However, we mustn't forget that an individual is not from the society but it is the society which comprises of individuals and their attitudes, perceptions and perspectives. Every human being, a product of his circumstances has and should have the space to exist.
It is often said that individuals being social animals must stay within the ambit of rules made by the society for collective good. I must ask the harbingers of society that what happens to all its rules when everything in the rule book is overlooked and rather than pacifying & understanding emotional trauma of a family it's relationships & feelings are turned into juicy coffee table gossip? Where are they when the media & its other constitutes even before proven guilty hold a father responsible for his daughters' death? Where are they when the News Channels turn a gruesome murder into a classic piece of soap opera, with new twists & turns added each day?
Days and months and years have passed. Though my husband has been released, the killer has not been found. I feel cheated, defeated and helpless. I don't know who is responsible for my anguish, despair & helplessness, I don't know who to blame, I don't know who to forgive. It's been 10 years since then. I still often wonder why & how my daughter was killed. On days when I sit and wonder what happened, different permutations and combinations come to my mind. I still long for her presence but I guess such is life.
P.S. Even though the story draws inspiration from the current Aarushi murder case, here I am not trying to solve it and say that the parents aren't guilty. I don't know yet and am not competent to comment on the issue. However, I do not approve of the way a matter which merits more social sympathy and empathy is being exploited by media for personal gains.