When Shankar fell in love with Kausalya, she was a shy, naive girl of 17 who had just joined college. In the years since then, a lot has changed. She discontinued her studies, married Shankar, witnessed him getting murdered in the name of ‘honour’ — herself suffering severe injuries in an attempt to save him — and underwent treatment.
Now 20, Kausalya has transformed into a courageous woman who has made it her mission to stop honour killings in India.
Shankar was a Dalit from a village near Udumalpet and Kausalya is of a supposedly higher caste in Palani, Tamil Nadu. They got married against her parents’ wishes and despite constant threats from them. Kausalya discontinued her studies after marriage whereas Shankar got a job through campus placements. A few months after the wedding, Kausalya’s family killed him. The video, which was caught on CCTV, went viral on social media. Her father confessed to the murder and her relatives, including her parents, are awaiting trial.
In the close to two years since then, Kausalya has transformed. She has cut her hair short (defying the strict gender roles imposed on a woman in a patriarchal society), holds a job with the central government, and is continuing her education through correspondence. Her ambition is to complete master’s in social work and become a social worker. She has also become a more socially aware person and is a public speaker working towards ensuring that no one has to lose someone in the name of caste. In her words,
“There is a lot I have to do in this society. First and foremost, I have to work towards abolishing caste, which was the reason behind my husband’s murder. I am working along with organisations that are working towards attaining this goal.”
Along with her education, she is also learning the parai (a musical instrument traditionally associated with her husband’s caste) and karate.
Apart from that, she is also particular about filling Shankar’s shoes and making sure that she supports his brothers financially until they complete their education. Determined not to forgive her family for the heinous act they committed, Kausalya considers Shankar’s family as her own now.
Read this in Tamil.