No, this is not one of those Agatha Christie-ishtyle mysteries where the suspicious wife murders and buries the philandering husband - not this time. The husband is (just) missing, or rather, he deserted her - with all her jewellery. And, of course, a vast sum of dowry.
The beginning was all hunky-dory, though.
The girl was doing her post-graduation, and her fiance - handpicked by her parents, of course - was well-placed (purportedly, he was a professor at IIT-Delhi). The girl was all misty-eyed after a couple of conversations with the chap, typing away furiously into her mobile phone (which, by the way, was forbidden within college campus) all day and geared up to take the sacred pheras. With the support of her fiance, she quit her course midway and joined LIC (which was what she had wanted to do anyway). All the girls in her class were green with envy.
She got married. A lot of of her classmates attended the marriage. She looked radiantly in love, and blissfully content.
Four months later, the husband went missing. Along with a sizeable chunk of jewellery, and a vast amount of cash. She was distraught, and frantic with worry. Until she came to know that he had done it before - thrice. Absconded, that is. The third time, IIT-Delhi had booted him out of their teaching program. The first time he'd decided to go missing was when he was in college (at some other IIT), and he returned a full 6 months later.
My point? His parents knew about this peculiar characteristic of thier beloved son. The bride obviously didn't. More importantly, nor did her parents. And I am sure, with some discreet enquiries, they could (should) have found out. They, like many other middle-class parents of their ilk, were lured by the prospect of an IIT-suffixed son-in-law, I presume - despite the dowry and other demands.
The tale above is not a figment of my imagination; it actually happened to a friend of mine. To her credit, she picked up the threads of her life, filed a lawsuit against the parents of the bridegroom (and got her bloody dowry back), got a divorce and is now coping up well - hopefully. Hopefully - because, if I know her correctly, she must have grown weary of all the brutal sympathy that must have been directed at her (and the unsaid accusations, of course - anything bad has to be the bride's fault). Perhaps that is why she is now in Calcutta, not much in contact with any of us. Hope fervently that she is alright.
Why this rant all of a sudden, you might be tempted to ask. Nothing in particular, was just amazed at the sheer nonchalance with which something as important as marriage is decided. I should know; 'processes' are going on in my household too.
Take my case, for instance. I am in this remote corner of NY, where it'd be pretty difficult to investigate my character/drug habits/drinking habits or whatever it is that'd be investigated as a matter of course (of course, knowing the proliferation of Indians, and esp Mallus, all over the world, it's certainly possible that the gal's second cousin's aunt's younger brother could be my roommate). I could be a drug-pushing, wife-beating deranged alcoholic, for all somebody in India knows (Gals reading this, I am not any of these ! Nor am I a habitual absconder, btw). And an unsuspecting girl could well end up getting married to the hypothetical me. Sad, but true.
There have been a couple of articles about this, and how to be careful and protect your daughters, and stuff like that (read one here). But the truth is, there is no infallible plan against this sort of thing - a terrible thing to say, but true neverthless (Why am I in a particularly pessimistic frame of mind, I wonder !!).