New Delhi: Rajeshwari Sahay, now a 19-year-old studying at Hindu College, was among the school friends who 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar was planning to invite to her birthday party in 2008. Then, just a few days before she turned 14, Aarushi was found with her throat slit in her family's apartment in Noida near Delhi.
In the following blog, she objects fiercely to the theory - accepted by a court in Uttar Pradesh yesterday - that Aarushi was killed by her parents after they found her in what investigators call "an objectionable position" with Hemraj.
It was the last day of school before we closed down for the summer vacations - a day of many plans for the uncertain expanse of two months that lay ahead of us, a day of slightly melancholic goodbyes. But one of them happened to be characterized by an unexpected streak of finality.
Five and a half years ago, a person was wrenched out of our lives and permanently inscribed into news headlines. It would be mildly put, to call what we went through, a nightmare. Every norm of respecting privacy was overstepped. Watching the live telecast of a fourteen-year old friend's funeral procession was not the most regular of school experiences. Aarushi Talwar became a household name, for all the wrong reasons. Those who had never known her, sat in public forums to discuss her character, her personal life, the unpardonable folly of having a boyfriend at that age, her relationship with her parents, everything down to her e-mails and even her text messages. Forming an opinion about a person who has been posthumously sensationalized by the media as a symbol for urban teenage daughters going haywire owing to boys, birthday parties and cellphones and thus digging up her own grave, is always an easy feat when we don't spare a look into our own closets.
Didn't we all have these streaks in us when we were fourteen? How abnormal is it for an urban, public school educated fourteen-year old of the twenty first century to own a cellphone, use it to text a friend of the opposite gender and put up a few harmless pictures of a birthday party on a social networking website? Does the presence of a male servant in the house inevitably allow perverse minds to suggest that Aarushi was having illicit sexual relations with him? Does the gruesome murder of a young girl and the subsequent invasion of the privacy of her family by media units automatically grant license to anyone to assume the authority to dissect her character in front of an entire public that is inherently attracted to any kind of scandal?
Aarushi could have been your daughter, sister or friend and then her loss would have meant much more than just having her relegated to the folds of what is now known as India's most sensational murder mystery.
The Jessica Lal Murder case faced enough flak because firstly the victim was a model, a profession too profane for our hypocritical Indian sensibilities; secondly she was tending a bar on the night she was shot, another image that our minds can only associate with 'negative progress'. The media surely played an instrumental role in speeding up the process of deliverance of justice in that case however only following much character assassination of the victim. In the process of airing all of these misplaced opinions, the real Aarushi Talwar gets immersed a second time, her only other chance at justice.
Aarushi was as normal as any fourteen year old girl of our times can be. She was an intelligent, funny, warm person with a huge circle of friends who will never forget her presence. Aarushi could have been your daughter, sister or friend and then her loss would have meant much more than just having her relegated to the folds of what is now known as India's most sensational murder mystery. In the process of forming critical impressions of issues that acquire public glare, we tend to forget the human core of sensitivity and empathy. The murder of a child, and that of even Hemraj, the domestic help of the Talwars, cannot be objectified or depersonalised to represent any kind of stereotype that would justify the act. To pass a judgement on the character of someone we have not had a single personal interaction with, especially when doing so has colossal implications, is almost like a metaphorical murder. Having known Aarushi since we were children, almost like family, its deeply disturbing , enraging even to have her discussed in a completely wrongful manner on platforms where the least that can be done is to denounce the unceremonious, unanticipated and absolutely unnecessary sequence of events that followed her death.
The case now is an inextricable part of my life and I don't believe in maintaining silence on the immoral representation of my friend whose fate met an end, horrific beyond description.
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