What Was Aarushi's Crime?

Had Eve possessed a soul like sand / Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land / Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,
Then her Betrayer would have sought / An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought / No germination of the grain.

- Francis Burdett Thomas

In the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet's character suffers the constant heartbreak her daughter subjects her to because she believes that tolerating her daughter's venomous actions must be the penance she has to pay for her own fiercely individualistic and ambitious lifestyle. One can only imagine what goes on in her heart when sees her daughter Vega (a character played to perfection by Evan Rachel Woods) not only have sex with her mother's boyfriend in front of her mother, but also unrepentantly flaunting her nudity in their presence.

The Talwars had no penance due when they purportedly walked-in on their daughter and their servant engaged in objectionable acts and although much has been said about the vile and heinous nature of their crime, little attention is paid to the circumstances that seed the evidence of their guilt. What has been casually filed as another act of honour killing, reveals on even the most careless objective analysis to be a case which defies any time-honored epithet.

The Talwars do not fit any die that would cast them as typical Honor Killers. They had provided for Aarushi's education and lifestyle in a manner that goes against the grain of the "Khap" mentality, add to that their own educated background and you have an anomaly which begs the question: What was Aarushi's crime?

What, in the name of all that is holy, could lead two stable, functioning units of society to commit an act which is the very antithesis of their values? The preservation of family honor as a motive reeks of intuitive bias because the even in that phrase "family" comes before "values" and Aarushi was the only family the Talwar couple had besides each other. If then, upon seeing their teenage daughter and middle-aged servant coiled in sin, Rajesh Talwar, decided to take law in his own hands and severed their bodies of life, then he must have been prepared to face the consequences no matter how great his rage.

How anger works in middle-class India is not unknown to anyone, corporeal punishment is routine but anything more is an exception. What is unknown is why a fourteen year old would become a sexual miscreant and why she would oblige a man twice her age, a immigrant labourer on top, to fool around with her? That both of them were murdered proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that their "objectionable act" was consensual. Had that not been a case, the father would proudly saved the daughter and slayed the servant alone.

From the pictures of Aarushi floating in the media, she appears to be a smart brat, ergo the theory that it was a case of teenage-rebellion gone haywire does not make sense because even the most rebellious Indian teenage girl knows where to draw the line.

Hence, If she allowed Hemraj near her, it could only have been out of a poisonous sense of retribution against the parents. Rajesh Talwar's actions must be seen in proper light: as a doting father's reaction to Aarushi's meditated, rancorous provocation and while the law does not seem to take human psychology into consideration while pronouncing judgements, civil society must indeed consider all aspects of the story before writing two average people off.

Murder is always uncalled for, but what was perhaps even more uncalled for was the rousing of parental anger by a calculative, misdirected teenager who wasn't as smart as she made herself to be.


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