The house we blew down

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ONLY 4 SANTA

Dear Santa,
Merry Christmas to you. I know you will be tired from running here to there giving children what they wanted but I want something totally different. I want the well- being of my family. I want no harm to reach them. Please fulfill my wish.
My second wish is that I wish my parents to always be with me and my friends too!!
My third wish is a bit silly — I WANT A DOG not from you but from my parents. I wish they agree!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS

Aarushi’s was not a dark childhood riven by family conflicts, as the media might have you believe. Ask her friends and you hear reports of a sunny life. See some photos and you find a giggly disposition. Ask her teachers and you get accounts of a brilliant student — that kid you knew in school who topped her exams effortlessly and always raised her hand to help organise activities with the teachers — that girl destined to be head girl of the class.

Rihanna poster on the wall — check. Anne Frank, Khaled Hosseini, JK Rowling and Jhumpa Lahiri on the bookshelf — check. Aarushi had decided early on that if her school, DPS, Noida insisted on tests every Monday, she would simply study beforehand and enjoy her weekends. Weekends were for books, music and the Awesum 4sum — the group she’d formed at the Ashley Lobo dance class she loved. She wrote for the school magazine, pranced in corridors, wrote extraordinarily affectionate cards to her parents. She was considering a career as a paediatrician or dancer.

There were also the bright shades of approaching urban teenhood. Fiza Jha, who had met Aarushi on her first day of school and was her best friend, told TEHELKA in 2008 that Aarushi would look at her reflection at every chance, even in kitchen windows. Aarushi was increasingly obsessed with her world of friends, and was forever chatting or sms-ing or Facebook-ing or Orkut-ing. She was also pretty, had female and male friends, some of them admirers. Mostly her parents tried to adjust and not be too flustered for teenhood hadn’t yet bitten into Aarushi fully — she was secure of herself in the world. She confided to her mother. She joked around with her father.

Speak no ill of the dead. When a 14-year-old is murdered, you’d think it’d be easy to follow that aphorism. But within days of her death, Aarushi’s blameless life, the freedom and the thick companionship she enjoyed with her parents were reflected in the distorting funhouse mirrors of slander.

The fluency with technology, the brilliance at extracurricular activities, the liberated atmosphere that allowed her friendships with boys — all of it would be used to malign her posthumously. The police couldn’t fathom a household where a teenage girl receiving a bouquet of flowers from an admirer leaves her parents unruffled. They were busy insinuating that her school project on drug addiction meant she had dodgy interests. The media were to also make ominous noises about Aarushi’s activities on Facebook and Orkut, about her having 688 ‘transactions’ with a boy from school over 45 days. 688 transactions. An average of 15 phone calls, SMSs, missed calls per day. Any beleaguered urban parent would have explained the phenomena to the UP police — it’s a teenager with a phone. But the police and media were to use this to build a portrait of promiscuity. As Pinaki Mishra, a lawyer who advises the Talwars told TEHELKA in 2008, “The whole lot have been bred on Manohar Kahaniyan, seeing sex everywhere.”

Leaking Aarushi’s emails selectively ensured the public digested a prepackaged portrait, such as the publicity given to an email where Aarushi told her father: “I just wanted to try it out coz I heard from mah frndz … so wotz da harm … I wnt do it again n I kinda noe hw u r feelin.” The mail was a year old, after a small argument about whether she was old enough to go to the movies with her girlfriends, without an adult. The Talwars had reluctantly agreed. The mail was actually Aarushi’s apology to her father for her tantrum, because she was, as Fiza said, ‘a goody-goody girl’. This innocuous apology was turned into dirty insinuations. “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men,” said Cardinal Richelieu in the 16th century, “I will find something in them which will hang him.”

1 COMMENT

  1. This chain of events, that the cops say proves the parents killed their daughter, would be laughed out of court & all the relevant investigative persons involved would lose their jobs in any civilized nation or society. When the cops, media, judiciary, even the common public cannot show even the slightest respect for a dead 14 year old girl & her grieving, devastated parents then India has lost the right to call itself a civilization or even a 19th century society.

    We should just dissolve the country into 30 or so countries, & call it a day.

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