“PAID BRIDE”, A One Act Play By Moloy Bhattacharya
(Mother is busy over phone with new relatives sitting on a half broken wooden chair at the corner of the veranda facing the main road of the village. Beside her standing Sima, her married daughter and son, Gaurav, healthy and stout, dim complexion, in his thirties, a graduate, working as a clerk in a nationalized bank located at Burdwan town. Seeing mother occupied, Sima beckons Gaurav to his bed room, recently plastered and painted , a couple of wall pictures, a LED TV vis a vis the door, a slim sofa attached to bed, Sima sinks into the sofa while Gaurav supports himself against the oily wall, clears her throat to draw his attention.)
Sima: (Patting his back), so bro, now your life is settled. A good match for you, we had been eyeing this type of family for long. But all credits should go to mother, remember your words at the early stage of the negotiation, you were very adamant, stuck to your point, dull headed.
Gaurav: I was right, she is only five feet tall, I am over six, its odd, ridiculous. Even not attractive, complexion not so so and………………
Sima: (interrupting him) listen to me carefully, what do you want in life? A good fortune or a fair doll? Decide first. She is educated, M.A in English and moreover the huge booty, be mature, after all, it is to make your life rich and prosperous, so don’t be childish and follow our advice. You are getting five lakhs cash, two lakhs extra for furniture and loads of jewellery before marriage.
Gaurav: That’s right, but I am pondering about the reaction of the relatives and villagers, you know that, they would criticize in our back and feel jealous of our appetite for money.
Sima: So what? Tell me one thing honestly, do you want a lucrative dowry or not? You will get more and more than just a handsome dowry. Don’t forget she is the only child. All their agricultural lands will be yours. Will you give me anything? Let the people say what they like to, after marriage it will die down.
Gaurav (with a smile): ok, it’s done. Do you know what Manoj uncle’s son got? He is an officer but only fifty thousand and few jewellery. Your brother has hit the jackpot.
Sima: Now with the money in hand, start planning everything within a month. Out of five lakhs, they have already paid two lakhs in cash. We have still nine months left.
(A month after marriage in a winter evening, Gaurav has just returned from office and is watching popular Bengali TV serial in his bed room. His wife, Rinky comes in with a cup of tea in her hand.)
Rinky: (handing him the tea), mother called me today; she is very worried, you know, how I have been spending my days here without her. Since my birth I have never been separated from her. (After a pause), we have completed one month of our marriage yesterday. You told me we will go to Puri for our honeymoon, have you booked the tickets?
Gaurav: (finishing his tea), yes my love, I have booked five reservation tickets in Howrah Puri Jagannath express.
Rinky: why five tickets? And in Jagannath Express? It is the dirtiest train to Puri.
Gaurav: Extra three tickets are for my sister, her husband and their only child.
Rinky: Since our marriage, we have never been to any tour, no honeymoon trip either, now we will be accompanied by them, what about my parents? If it happens by the grace of God, it will be our first outing.
Gaurav (irritated): don’t argue with me in this matter anymore. It is already final.
Rinky (excited): I am your wife, you should have discussed with me earlier before taking final decision.
Gaurav (slapping her): don’t make fuss; try to be happy with us.
Rinky (wailing) how dare you hit me? Shame on you.
Gaurav: I will do it again, you are my property now. You are not free to do what you like; you need my permission in every step of your life.
Rinky: I am a woman, I have my dignity. Remember I am not your slave and never make the mistake that I am weak. You care for me a foot, only enjoy me at night like a beast. Your family drains my father’s earning, cash, jewellery, and furniture, even demanded a car. So many things for marrying a petty clerk!
Gaurav (enraged): I warn you to shut up this nonsense otherwise I will thrash you again.
(Rinky throws her in the bed and starts weeping, burying her face into the soft pillow. Mother enters and gestures Gaurav to read what has happened, Gaurav spoke nothing only gestured back. They both leave the room.)
(Two months later, on a rainy night a police jeep came and halted at the entrance to the village just beside the high school on the main road, seeing few people gossiping together, an officer got down and walked few steps to talk to them. After getting the information he needed for the purpose to his satisfaction, he sat inside the car and told the driver to move straight towards the end of the village. Within few minutes the car stopped in front of the large house of Gaurav. It was past ten then and his parents were just in bed and Gaurav was watching a cricket match on TV, he heard a knock on the main gate and ignored it, then a second, third even much louder, he hurriedly came downstairs to open the gate to see who are there at this odd hour. On opening the gate he faced the police officer standing on the threshold of the main gate with other personnel)
Officer: Are you Gaurav Sen?
Gaurav: yes, my name is Gaurav Sen. What has happened?
Officer; what is the name of your wife and where is she now?
Gaurav: Rinky Sen. We had an altercation and she went to her parents.
Officer: Did you do anything to bring her back?
Gaurav: No, but I was thinking to get her back very soon.
Officer: Look, she will never come here, and she has filed an FIR against you in court under section 498A, Domestic Violence Act, so based on the charges you are arrested.
Gaurav: But sir, believe me, I did nothing of that sort of torture or physical abuse.
Officer (harshly); we are in no mood to listen to you. Where are your parents? Have they fled?
(The officer ordered the constables to enter the house and search all the rooms but before that the constables grabbed him by hand from both sides and dragged him to the jeep where other officers were waiting for him)
Gaurav (To the Officer); Sir, I have to call someone, please allow me to do that. I like to call local party president for a minute. (He talks to the president for a minute and like a next door neighbor he appears on the spot)
President; Hello Officer, what has happened? You have come to my village without informing me? It is very bad.
Officer; I am sorry sir, actually we were in a hurry as we got the order from the court today itself and rushed here to nab the culprit.
(The President beckons the Officer and they came close and spoke in whisper for a while then the President cleared his throat and turned to Gaurav who was still sitting inside the jeep to speak. The Officer gestured Gaurav to go inside his house and take rest)
President (To Gaurav); Listen, you meet the officer in his office tomorrow in the evening with……..and meet me after that….I will handle the rest.
(The driver starts the engine and the jeep disappears into the darkness leaving black smoke and blaring noise).
About the Author
Moloy Bhattacharya, M.Phil., is an academician, scholar, creative writer, playwright, translator and interviewer from West Bengal, India. Apart from teaching, he passionately writes poems, short stories, reviews and articles on various social issues. His poems and writings have been published in various national and international anthology both online and print version. He regularly participates in many national and international poetry festivals held throughout the country. His debut poetry collection, "Flying Bird" has recently been published from reputed publishing house like Authors press, New Delhi. He has written a one act play, "Paid Bride" on the dowry menace and has started his first novel on human relationships. He is an M.Phil. in Women's Study from The University of Burdwan. His research interest is Women Rights and Media. He did M.A in English and M.A in Mass Communication from Burdwan University along with a degree in Bachelor in Education (B.Ed). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org