Guest Column

What happened to my Ammulu?

Sai Pranati, 27, died in suspicious circumstances at her home in Rajkot on 25 April, 2019. She was married since October 2015. Her mother, Brahmaramba, a teacher in Hyderabad, suspects hanky-panky and alleges there were constant demands from her husband and mother-in-law.

In this extremely emotional column, Brahmaramba writes about her Pranati, the girl she fondly called `Ammulu’ and wonders if instilling values of obedience and giving respect cost Pranati her life.

It is two weeks since I last spoke to my daughter. It is two weeks since she left this world. Why and how that happened, who is responsible, I still don’t know. Hardly a moment has passed without that question gnawing and tearing me up.

Sai Pranati was the name we gave to our daughter when she came into this world 27 years ago. Our only child, she was always Ammulu to me and Papay to her father. Yesterday, he broke down, crying aloud, I have lit my daughter’s pyre, I have burnt Papay down, what is left?

Ammulu grew up as a soft-natured girl, with traditional values despite being progressive and modern in her outlook. After  a post-graduate degree in Chemistry, she worked with GVK Biosciences in Hyderabad for a couple of years. When a `good’ alliance came and we got her married, she resigned her job to join her husband in Rajkot, Gujarat.

The prospective mother-in-law had said Pranati would be her daughter. She had brought up her only son after her husband passed away 28 years ago. An educated family, with an affectionate nature, we didn’t think too much when they asked for a dowry of Rs 6 lakh. 

Sai Pranati

Everything I earned as a teacher at a private school in Hyderabad and what my husband earned as a Railway employee (retired in 2013) was after all to see our daughter happy and well-settled. We agreed to give a dowry of Rs 2.15 lakh and bought all household items to start their home in Rajkot.

Initially, we were told, don’t buy a cot, since there would not be space in the apartment bedroom, only beds would do. Within six months, “You never paid us for the cot” was a complaint. We as parents, sent across Rs 50,000 to buy a cot. But till date, no cot was bought. Our daughter slept on the ground. The money went into the husband’s bank account.

When we bought an almirah for our daughter for Rs 20,000, her husband was once again upset. “You should have handed over the cash, what a waste to buy an almirah”. We should have recognised these as dowry harassment demands. We were naive enough to tell ourselves, these are passing clouds

They had got married in October 2015. After the first six months, the rest of the three years of marriage for my daughter was a torture. Things apparently got worse after her mother-in-law retired in January this year as a cooperative bank manager in Hyderabad and shifted to Rajkot to live with her son and daughter-in-law. 

From a so-called daughter, Sai Pranati became not just a daughter-in-law but an unpaid domestic help who was expected to do all household work. She was not allowed to engage any domestic labour as help. She was expected to hand over the salary she earned as a lecturer and be answerable for where she went at any time and for every rupee spent. 

They wouldn’t allow her to give her clothes for ironing since that would cost money. We bought an iron box for her. They wouldn’t let her iron her clothes over the weekend, saying it would increase power consumption and an inflated electricity bill. They wouldn’t allow the purchase of a washing machine. Our daughter learnt to adjust and survive.

When our daughter became pregnant last year, she was not taken to a lady doctor. Instead, the mother-in-law argued that according to her horoscope, she would only give birth to a daughter and that they did not want. Sai Pranati suffered a miscarriage.

Our daughter was bright and was selected to do a Ph.D at R K University in Rajkot. She had stood first in the entrance exam whereas her husband fared poorly and wasn’t able to get a guide for his Ph.D.

Ammulu died on 25 April. The day before that, I am told she made a presentation at the University, which was much appreciated. Her friends subsequently shared a video. At 3:30 pm that day when she last spoke to me, she excitedly shared details  about her work, her Ph.D guide and college.

At 7:30 pm, I got a call from my son-in-law, saying your daughter has locked herself up in the bedroom after drinking something. Later he said my daughter had tea. But I have not known Ammulu to drink tea. The FIR however, says the incident happened between 7:15 pm and 11:30 pm. The police, according to the FIR, was informed at 11:30 pm.

So when did she die?

The post-mortem report given by the Forensic Medicine Department, Government of Gujarat, revealed a poison had been ingested. Her husband and mother-in-law said she had killed herself. Why would my daughter do that? She was happy and excited, despite some domestic issues. She was looking forward to coming home next month along with her husband for a two-week break. What went wrong? I have no answers.

Was she forcibly poisoned? Did she think life had turned so miserable that she resorted to suicide, without even once speaking to me? 

The police have registered cases under IPC section 306 and 498A and the Dowry Harassment Act. These am told are non-bailable sections but I understand the mother-in-law is already out on bail. 

I need answers. I need justice. More than anything, I need to know the truth about what happened to my Ammulu. Till then I can’t sleep. I can’t look her in the eye even in that photo that she shot as a selfie with me last year.

Did I not bring up my daughter with the same love and care and affection as how her mother-in-law brought up her son? Then why is it that in the name of marriage, my daughter had to make all the sacrifices? Did I err in teaching her so-called family values, of being obedient and not questioning? Did the girl I brought her up to be ultimately cost us her life today?

Or is it about greed and violence, about patriarchal values and expectations that says even an educated girl like my daughter can’t escape shackles. Despite being a woman in the 21st century, does she have to hand over her salary to her husband or mother-in-law who will then decide how that money will be spent, whether at all it will be spent. Does she need to serve without questioning, otherwise she would be called a haughty girl who is not well brought up. If she complains, she will be told to get out. She will have no freedom to decide what she would like to buy or what she would like to do, without the permission of the family she serves? 

Is this what we would call an equal world? If that is the case, let us stop lying to our daughters.

(As told to Filter Kaapi Bureau)

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35 replies »

  1. Dear Uma,
    I am extremely upset after reading this article. I will feel relieved only after reading another article confirming that death Sai Pranati’s husband and MIL have been arrested, tried in the court of law and awarded death sentence. I know these things happen in our society but we cannot call ourselves a progressive and developed nation till the menace of dowry is completely eliminated. This, in turn is possible only if all those who are found guilty in dowry harassment cases are awarded capital punishment.

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    • This is unacceptable henious crime by the in-laws. They should not be allowed to go Scott free or take advantage of the judicial system to drag their punishment and move around freely and give additional torture to Ammalu parents.
      Further.

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      • Isn’t the crime beyond the MIL and husband? Isn’t the society that has entrenched values where a woman is basically property to blame as well? Isn’t each and every citizen that abides by these accepted norms, not dowry alone which has changed, but the girl child as subservient slave to inlaws and husband? And sadly, isn’t the parents too that buy an iron box for their educated daughter? The parents who now grieve are complicit for not taking her out of such a home due to societal norms. Parents that knew she was s domestic slave now question how they may have raised her? How about how they reacted to “clouds”. There are enough stories in India just like this for every parent to take immediate notice when trouble starts to show. But yo save reputation they justify the most heinous treatment of a daughter until it’s too late. All are to blame. Society, girls parents and MIL and husband. Until someone feels enough pain to take up a public and vocal cause to point to this injustice towards women. All have blood on their hands. And yet, even as this happens every day, feminist is a dirty word. Asking that women not be treated as second class and as subservient to husbands, is feminism. But rare is the day msm will allow such a discourse.

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    • I am as frustrated and shattered as you are. But firstly I would like to question the parents (not only parents of pranati) but all the Indian parents who bring up their daughters in this shitty society to not to defend or open their mouths against in-laws to win over their hearts no matter what. We girls don’t have anything to do apart from commiting suicide in this worst society. Do you really want this to happen to you daughters. Think!!!! Marriage is not everything. Life is not only about give birth to a child and saving money for them. Life is much more. Come out of your shell and look at the world.

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  2. Pranati is from my family and very close to all being the last among the daughters of my father’s siblings. Could stop my tears while writing this comment. This is irrecoverableincident which left our entire family in shock. The greedy culprits definitely needs to be punished.

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    • SAIRAM. Will the culprits be punished? If they r not punished can we public punish them. I feel such humans should be treated as animals after taking their citizenship.

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      • Do you know how public punished a rapist in Dimapur Nagaland?
        5000 citizens broke into the jail, pulled out the culprit and hanged him in the city square.
        This is the punishment.
        The law is too weak.

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    • the culprits should be given life impresenment
      a woman lecturer PHD aspirant
      educated from Satya sai higher education centre can never resort to such incidents
      it shoud be thoroughly probed
      my pranams to the parents of pranathi
      may GOD give them comfort atleast in the memories of their only daughter
      the victim is my brother
      daughter
      she is very disciplined and peace loving balsnced
      healthy hard working devotional girl

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  3. Pranathi is my dearest friend… She is such sweet girl who always used to accept her pain i
    with her smile… I’m sure she’ll never do anything like this… Those ruthless people would’ve done something to my friend… Will miss you my dear friend

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  4. Dear Aunty,
    Very sorry to hear this, I don’t know Pranathi or you personally, but what has happened to her is really sad and we learn a lot from our parents about values and how to adjust in our in-laws place after marriage inspite of that such things repeatedly happen in the name of dowry.
    Whoever is responsible for this, should be severely punished seeing that only she will be at peace where ever she is now and how can someone even decide about sex of the baby during the period of pregnancy and give her that pressure.
    I request you to be brave and strong! And don’t leave the people who are responsible for this.
    Please be strong, you will get justice.
    Will pray for you and your family.
    Prasanthi

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  5. The mother in law and the husband should be tortured to the end… but they shouldn’t die… Mentally and physically… This is just not acceptable.. Just imagine the pathetic state of the mother and father…. Or the son should be stoned to death….

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    • Very sad to note this incident inthe present dsy. How i wish the son & his mother do get the required punishment and Saiparithi’ s parents get full justice….
      Our prayets are always there for sai’s parents….

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  6. Being a mother u have enclosed all ur words n its really heart touching . You r strong aunty. ul get justice. My prayers are there with u .

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    • All our prayers are with you aunty. We all in college know her to be bubbly and funny and intelligent. She made everyone laugh and if anyone made any fun on her also she laughed it out. Very devoted and sincere in her work. Just so very saddened to hear this. May her soul rest in peace and justice be given though it’s incorrigible.

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      • Sai Mam was one of the most dearest teacher, I remember me joining college and meeting her for the first time She being telugu was a great company and support during the two years (2016-18)of post graduation. She was very helpful even during the last days.This news was heart breaking never expected anything like this happening. May her soul rest in peace and she get the ultimate justice. 🙏🏿😔

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  7. Dear readers,
    I am truly against such harassments and violence. To all those who feel dowry is a custom trickiling down from ages, I am sorry to say that even if it was followed from centuries, it was only used for strategic alliances and for bonding of thousands of lives through such alliances. Bit, today, the definition of such acts have drastically changes and people have grown more greedy and more egoistic. WHY SHOULD WE PAY TO STAY IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE???? why can’t we put our foot down and say NO to those who resort to such actions? Today the mistakes done to our sister is surely going to be undone! Dear Aunty, know this for sure, never blame the way you brought up your child, if she had adjusted to all the excuses made by her MIL and husband it only shows how strong she was and how you brought her up. Do you think after facing all that she faced, she would resort to such lame stuff? There is surely someone behind this! The right punishment should be given to them. I pray that JUSTICE be given to her family…!

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  8. The son and the ruthless mother who taught nothing to her bloody bastard son should be hanged to death. My friend cannot commit suicide. Very nicely the game was planned. They din even leave the baby in her womb. Wish I could just cut their neck and save my pranati.

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  9. A real woman will not utter dialogues like “you are my daughter, blah, and blah” to her daughter-in-law. A real good-natured woman will “behave”. This lady, that poor girl’s so-called mother-in-law, is obviously a cruel woman and her son, a spineless bastard! There is definitely some foul play in here. There is no need for any “adjustment” in this day and age. Girls have to walk out of bad marriages and parents have to stand by them. Adjusting to these cruel people will add to their already inflated egos. The men feel as though they can take advantage and be “entitled”. What rubbish! First of all, it should not be the headache of the girl’s family to fund money for the marriage between her and some stranger! The marriage cost has to be equally shared, and no special privileges should be given to the guy and the family. MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL.

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  10. Really feeling so sad and touched by this gruesome act of the inlaws .They must be severely punished and no girl must face such situations.The Indian law must act quick and not prolong such cases.

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  11. So ruthless husband and in-law. Really feeling bad and so touched. Pray to God to provide strength to her patents to handle and come out of this tragedy situation. Hope all mighty will do proper justice.

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  12. Dear ma’am
    I can feel the pain your bleeding heartmay be undergoing.our so called progressive society should come up with such a punishment to the sinners that no parents of boys will ever have even the slightest intention to harm or even talk harshly to their daughter in law.Let us also teach values like tolerance and dutiful Ness to our sons as well.

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  13. Sairam.
    We can understand your pain and grief but those responsible should be punished.
    May Lord SAI give you strength so that truth comes out and she smiles from the heavens.

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  14. Hi
    Being a mother I can feel your pain, but would request you to be strong and do all that you can do to punish such people. Don’t leave them & that should be your Motto now. Request you not to give up but rather fight for it. Get justice to your daughter.
    Regards

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  15. Very sorry to hear this… I hope justice prevails and the truth is out in open soon… May god be with you 🙏🙏🙏

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  16. It is a shame that such tragic incidents are still very common in our country. Though I don’t know you personally, I can understand your feelings. I pray to GOD to be with you in your fight to get justice for your dear Ammulu.

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  17. I personally do not know you nor your daughter but the article brought tears in my eyes and a deep pain in my heart…this is nothing but dowry death..no doubt at all..in hindsight we can say many things..this should have been done that should not have been done etc etc but all that is of no use..the most relevant question is will the culprits be punished ? The answer is very unfortunately “not sure “why am I so pessimistic? The answer is clear..she got married in 2015 and she died in 2019..if death of a married woman occurs within seven years of her marriage under such unnatural circumstances (including suicide) then section 304 B should be applied..but I read that section 306 is applied..it’s a mistake..section 304B makes the husband and mother in law both guilty at the very beginning of the case and they have to prove their innocence..instead sec 306 prosecution has to prove their guilt…why did the police not treat it as dowry death eventhough this case is fit case under 304 B ?
    Only a concerted fight will ensure punishment to the culprits… otherwise they will come out of the case soon and let’s not be surprised if that man gets married soon to another innocent unsuspecting girl and one more Sai Pranathi will become victim of their greed…very sad but it’s very likely to happen…who will fight for justice?

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  18. An educated husband and educated mother in law behaving in such a highly pathetic nature leading to the most abrupt and untimely end of the daughter in law, Ammulu is very disgusting and uncalled for. We pray almighty for a very speedy justice. Her mother Bhramaramba is a very calm going and never used to speak anything against her in laws and used to oblige to them. Same characteristics she had imbibed in her daughter also as a result Ammulu had been very intelligent and at the same time very respectful to elders. The treatment meted out to her by her in laws is horrible and highly condemnble. All the people concerned and involved in this crime should be punished immediately since justice delayed is justice denied.

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  19. Dear ma’am so sorry to hear the news, the idiots must punished with more painful death rather than a simple death sentence. My deep condolence to you n sir , really a heart breaking news.

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  20. It’s the social stigma of walking out on marriage however abusive it was. I have seen so many educated women with highly paid job not have confidence to stand for themselves. If I have to guess, she must have threatened to walk out or report to police. That’s when this extreme step was taken by in laws

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  21. It’s shocking! A PhD aspirant getting treated like this! Obviously the son was not taught to treat life with respect. He must be put behind bars with his mother. God be with the parents and help them cope with this loss. 🙏🙏

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