Dowry Culture: A despairing reality

November 22, 2017

By Areesha Babar

Dowry is an ancient custom that still exists among us. It is an essential element of a wedding for some families and a befitting way to exhibit their affection for their daughters on this occasion, but is this practice convenient for many others as well?

After having a tiring day at her workplace, Sarah finally reached her home. Despite feeling exhausted, she was still happy as she got her salary on time. Putting it in her money-saving box, she finally laid down on her bed to sleep.

The next day when she came to her Madam’s house, she was astonished to see the new sumptuous furniture in her home. Later, she discovered that the furniture was for her daughter’s dowry. As she moved her hands over their furniture while dusting, she thought about her sister’s dowry and the money she was saving for it. Her sister’s wedding was within eight months. She was excited about her sister’s dowry, but she knew that no matter what, she won’t be able to make it as lavish as theirs.

The other day, she worked until late at night. For the next few weeks, her madam extended her working hours. Her entire day at work was spent wondering about her sister’s dowry, while sometimes she thought about her father’s medications for which she had to save some amount of her salary at the end of each month. Sarah’s father was a tuberculosis patient while her mother left her when she was too young. Since then, as the sole breadwinner of her family, she started working at her madam’s house as a maid.

During the daytime when Sarah was at her workplace, her   younger sisters used to look after their father. At night, Sarah took care of him. But during the days of the wedding preparation, Sarah used to work until late at night. Hence, she was usually worn out and wasn’t able to give proper attention to her father.

The very next day she witnessed a gleaming car parked right in front of her madam’s house. When she moved into the house, she saw her madam’s family discussing the details of their daughter’s dowry. She felt nothing but sad for not being able to do things for her sister with the same grandeur. Just when she put her eyelids to rest, the very next second she heard her sister scream and that shook off her sleep. As she woke up, she saw that her father was in a serious condition. Both the sisters then carried their father and rushed to the hospital. As they reached the hospital, the doctor declared it as an emergency case. Her father’s surgery was expensive. She wasn’t able to afford it.

The next morning, Sarah hurtled to her madam’s house. As she got there, she noticed her madam was instructing some of her other servants. After a while, Sarah told her madam, that she would not be working for some days as her father is in a very serious condition. Sarah asked her madam for help, and to her disappointment, her madam overlooked her plead.

Sarah left the place with a heavy heart. She had worked for them for many years.  Her madam’s cold response was not what she had expected. Sarah was helpless and was desperately looking for a solution. Sarah knew that her father’s health was most important. She took the money of she saved up for her sister’s dowry and a few loans from her relatives. All her savings were spent on the surgery.

Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t go well. Sarah’s father died. Sarah and her younger sisters were depressed over the loss for many days. After a few weeks, Sarah regained   strength and stepped out of her home to work. As she returned to her madam’s house, she was surprised to see another maid working there. a few days passed, she started looking for work, meanwhile, through mutual sources, she came to know that her sister’s in-laws were planning to call-off  the marriage. They knew that Sarah had no money left for her sister’s dowry. That was another loss for Sarah.Once again, Sarah was left isolated to fight with her hardships and the societal norms.