Black Money and the Half Brides of Uttar Pradesh


Black Money and the Half Brides of Uttar Pradesh

Illustration: Akshita Monga


he Singhs* were gathered around the living room of their Ghaziabad house, on their fourth round of chai that evening. A happy tension was rippling through the family. Long-distance aunts and sisters fussed over the trousseau of the Singhs’ only daughter Neetu, who tiptoed around the room coyly. Neetu was nervous with excitement; her wedding had been fixed a couple of months ago after several failed attempts over the years.

After all, alliances are not easy for a 31-year-old woman with no professional prospects. She is considered well past her sell-by date. So when the Chaudhary family agreed to the wedding – albeit dependent on the exchange of a hefty dowry that ran into lakhs – Neetu swallowed her pride and decided to go with the flow. The groom was a good-looking fella and had a well-paying job. Mr and Mrs Singh were happy – a big load had been taken off their minds. That night, Neetu watched her father heave a sigh of relief as he cut a last-minute deal with the tentwallah over the phone.