Story of London based scientist used and abused because of her caste
My name is Pallavi, a Dalit daughter of India and this is my story.
Don’t believe the story about the “New India”. India may be booming, it’s middle class expanding and there are opportunities galore for many millions.
But if you’re the wrong gender and the wrong caste, no matter what you achieve – send a mission to mars or work as an expert in a highly specialized field – you’re still a second-class citizen. You who can be used, exploited and discarded at the whims of those who believe their gender is “superior” and, has been placed by god himself in a disgusting social “hierarchy”. A hierarchy called the caste system.
I come from a small village in Uttar Pradesh but have reached unimaginable heights for someone of my background.
I hold a Master of Science from King’s College London, one of the world’s pre-eminent institutions of higher learning. I’m a data scientist, a specialist in artificial intelligence and currently pursuing a PhD in the field.
I’m not bad to look at. I’m a kind and loving human being with a generosity that knows no bounds.
But none of that matters because I was unfortunate enough to be born in the wrong place in the above-mentioned “hierarchy”.
None of my achievements, my contributions to society, my very being, matters because of my “caste”.
What I have suffered at the hands of a man of a “higher caste” is testament to the insidious nature of the caste system and how it systematically – and often in ways that are invisible to wider society – deprives, discriminates and damns people.
This is my story and it begins in London while I was pursuing my Master’s Degree. Despite an academic career going from strength to strength, the one thing that preoccupied my parent’s thoughts – as it does the parents of many daughters of India – is getting me married off.
So I registered myself on one of those matrimonial sites and ensured that I painted the most accurate picture of myself – everything from where I came from through my education and of course, the fact that I am from the “schedule” caste.
Soon I was contacted by a young man from the Rajput community called Chandrakant Singh. He was the son of a retired Air Force officer and I was emphatic in making myself clear to him about my background. I told him that I was not interested in “hook ups” and was looking for a life partner.
Whilst believing – perhaps naively – that questions of caste didn’t matter in the “New India” of 2019, I still wanted to make sure that he did not have any issues with my caste and it was the first question I posed him.
He was as emphatic as I was in saying that living in the UK it did not matter
From there a relationship began to develop, first through messages online and then telephone calls before we finally met.
One day in the summer of 2017 we met near Windsor Palace where he lived. I had never been there so I visited but when I reached, he said it was “too late” to go to the Palace or anywhere else for that matter. He invited me to his apartment and, as it was quite far from my student accommodation, offered me to stay the night.
The alarm bells should have rung at that point – but I was a naïve young girl who was quite enamoured with this boy and had built up some trust. However, when he tried to become intimate with me, I told him that I was not interested and it was too soon.
Remarkably, he agreed and we slept in separate rooms that first night.
It was something that increased my trust in him. The relationship really blossomed from that point on. We spoke on the phone every day and we grew incredibly close. I visited him on a number of occasions but I always ensured that things did not go beyond a certain limit.
He was caring and loving and promised that he would marry me and promised to speak to his parents. When I raised the issue of how his family would react to news about my caste, he said he “didn’t care” and the fact that I was educated would sway his parent’s minds.
I was convinced and looked forward to my dream wedding and a life together with the man I was falling in love with.
By this time I was approaching the final days of my college accommodation and began looking for a new room. My post-graduate degree too was coming to an end and I was planning to move to India in January 2018 for a short while – perhaps to get married, I hoped – before returning to the UK for my PhD.
At this he told me there was no reason to look for a room because I was going to India and that I should come and stay with him. I was reluctant but he was persuasive. He promised me the earth, the moon and everything in between and I had come to trust him. So I took the plunge but with the condition that we would not sleep together until after marriage and pay half the rent.
I took care of the flat and him whilst also finishing my studies.
He tried on many occasions to get me to his bed but I refused. As the days moved into months, he became irritated at this and insisted that I should sleep with him because he would marry me “in the very near future”.
I finally relented. I had never been with a man in this way and I was so utterly convinced that he was the one that I would spend the rest of my life with. He had convinced me. I had naively believed.
At this point I told my parents that I had found my life partner and they were ecstatic. And I asked him when he was going to talk to his parents. The first response was “I will talk to them soon”.
But “soon” went from “in a few days’ time” to “next week” and it dragged on. I told him that I wanted him to finalize things before I left for India.
Then the excuses started.
He said his parents were “not ready” – despite the fact that they all knew that he was actively looking for a bride.
Then he said he was not ready. The alarm bells really began ringing for me. I told him that I would not have any choice but to die if he didn’t marry me.
He then said that I should go to India where he would join me and then he would talk first to my parents face to face and then to his.
Then in November 2017, I became pregnant.
He flew off the handle as if he had no part in it! He insisted that we get rid of the baby and I went along.
But bizarrely, he continued to want to be physical with me. Being naïve and increasingly vulnerable and fearful that I would lose him, I too relented. However, instead of using protection, he would take me to the doctor to order the morning after pill. This is what happens, you understand. Some of you may look at me askew, say I brought this on myself. While I accept part of the blame, put yourself in my shoes. I have never felt so vulnerable, my life a whirlwind of conflicting emotions, caught between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing for what I believed to be the right reasons.
There was a hurricane of emotions developing inside of me – guilt, love for him, shame at what I had put myself through and the sheer helplessness of it all as I felt I had no choice!
In January 2018 I came back to India for a short visit. After returning to the UK, when I tried to get in touch with him he began ignoring me. As my visa was expiring, perhaps he hoped that I would return to India for good and I would merely be another notch on his bedpost.
I became frantic and exhausted with worry and helplessness. I told him that my life would be destroyed if he didn’t marry me. Yet again, he insisted that he would talk to his parents – this time saying that he was planning to travel to India to do so.
At this point in time I also discovered that he had remained registered on the matrimonial site where we had first connected.
While my personal life was falling apart around me, my academic career was going from strength to strength. I received news that I would get a full scholarship to pursue a PhD at the University of London beginning in the autumn of 2018.
At this time my brother also revealed that he would be getting married in October 2018. So I told VARUN that he should travel with me to India for the wedding and that he could meet my family and – hopefully – speak to his parents.
To my huge relief he agreed!
We decided to meet in Delhi and go from there. In early September I traveled to India and met him at Delhi airport when he arrived from the UK. From there, after promising to meet me the day after, he went to his sister’s home while I went to stay with a friend in Delhi.
But then communications again stopped. I reached him after innumerable attempts and then he promised to talk to his parents and once again bring them along to meet my family.
Three days later – after more calls from me – he told me that he could not marry me as his parents were dead against it. But instead of being even remotely sad or regretful, he described in graphic detail the reasons behind his parents’ disapproval.
He said they described me as “that girl from the CHOODA CHAMAR caste”. They would have allowed me to marry you, he said, if you had been a Muslim girl but definitely not because I am from the Scheduled Caste.
He told me a story his sister’s husband had said: after he had met with a friend whose surname was the same as mine, his mother had insisted on washing all his clothes after the meeting!
At this point he also said that he would not allow me into his house in Windsor and I should sort out my accommodation before starting my PhD. But given the timescale, I asked him if he could put me up at his flat for at least one week. Perhaps a small part of me still had some hope of convincing him, away from the clutches of his family.
He agreed and we met at Delhi airport before traveling to the UK. But then he decided to – somewhat gleefully I should say – to show me a text message his sister had sent him, asking him to not eat anything from my hand or to touch anything given by me.
My hopes began to rise again when I came back to the UK as his demeanor appeared to change. He told me that his family had met a girl, a potential bride for him, but he had denied the offer. And he told me that this time he would move heaven and earth to convince his parents and once again insisted that he would marry me.
And he asked me to come and live with him so as to save on rent and expenses. The naïve, vulnerable girl in me, once again, agreed.
In November 2018, we shifted to new flat and lived happily for 3 months. I shared the rent and other expenses with him and took care of him as a wife would – cooking and cleaning and doing all the chores. My parents began to ask about him and said they wanted to meet his parents.
But when he once again broached the subject of marriage with his parents, they were as emphatic as before. They told him that if he married me, no one would come to our wedding. No one would even drink a drop of water from our home. His father sent messages making fun of my height while his mother called me “Chamari” and “Mayawati” and told him not to bring that “Belan” (Chappati Roller) to their home.
Once I called his father who refused to speak to me and instead passed the phone on to his daughter. I begged and pleaded and asked why they thought I was so unsuitable, particularly when I was an educated girl. She told me, “You are a scientist for yourself. To us, you’re just a “Chamari”.
In March of 2018, I became pregnant again. I insisted that he tell his parents and when he did they said they would not “allow it” under any circumstances and asked him to have the baby aborted. I told him that we should have a marriage registered in the UK – in the vain hope that his parents would eventually come around as most parents do in such circumstances but bizarrely – perhaps unsurprisingly – he just categorically said no.
He could just spend his time fucking me and being looked after by me and using me in any which way but he didn’t have the courage to protect me.
I told him that I would keep the baby and he said fine you can live in England as a single mother but that he would not have any part in any of this. But the very next moment he again demanded that I abort the baby.
And then I finally broke down. One night in March 2018, unable to bare the mental stress and emotional torture, I took an overdose of pills. He discovered me unconscious at home and took me to hospital where I miscarried. When I came round, he had left.
I had no one that I could call. I kept asking for him and calling him repeatedly but he just ignored me. When he eventually did pick up the phone, it was to tell me that I could not return to the home that we had shared for three months.
I told him that I had just gone through a terribly traumatic experience and was not in any position to go look for a place to live. I begged him to reconsider and told him that I just wanted to come and collect my things from the apartment before going to India for good.
The PhD, my future, my life meant nothing to me at that point.
He then said I had two weeks to sort myself out and he didn’t let me forget it, asking me daily when I would be leaving the house that WE SHARED and I spent money on! He would say that he was impatient for me to leave the house because he had to “video-call his parents”.
Those few days were filled with abuse and insults but something also changed inside me. I decided that I should not quit my PhD as my education would be all that would be left for me after this nightmare passed. As with all nightmares, I found the courage to believe that this too would pass.
But still the games continued.
I moved out but would get calls and messages from him declaring his “undying love” for me. I too felt a great deal of love for him despite all that he had put me through.
In April he again contacted me to say that he would speak to his parents again – this time on his own initiative as I had given up by this time.
But he kept asking me to come back, sending me streams of messages and calling incessantly and once again promising to make things right. The naïve fool I was, I once again gave in. He even booked a taxi for me to come over to his place and I did. When I got there, he was completely drunk.
When he saw me, he didn’t waste a moment before dragging me to the sofa and ripping my clothes off and basically raped me. I felt like a corpse, a prostitute, unable to resist, not knowing what to do, hoping that things would change and gripped by shame and sheer, utter helplessness.
The next day he again promised me that he would speak to his parents. And then disappeared again – not answering calls or responding to messages.
Then at the end of April 2018, he said his parents had fixed him a marriage with a girl in Canada and that I should just “move on with my life”. I felt used, abused, exploited and above all, completely heartbroken.
It seemed that through the entire trauma, the abuse and the moments when he made me feel like a prostitute, I had clung on to some slim thread of hope, praying and hoping against everything that should have been evident to me that this man just saw me as someone he can use and discard.
Soon after he blocked me from everywhere, calls, Whatsapp and Social Media.
It’s been a year now.
My life – on a personal level, at least – is destroyed. It has been a gargantuan struggle to overcome the trauma. My self-confidence, my self-esteem has been shattered – as if someone has taken a giant sledgehammer to a large mirror – into a million tiny little shards of glass. Like steel pylons bent out of shape by a bomb blast.
You know what the most bizarre thing is? It is that this deceitful man continues to live in the UK on a visa granted to him on “humanitarian grounds”. It is laughable!
It’s a mystery as to exactly which of this privileged man’s “human rights” have been violated for the British government to grant him residency in this country! Imagine that! He’s here on a human rights visa when he and his family have taken away my most basic human right – the right to human dignity.
It’s been a year now.
I have had to dig deep into my psyche to find the courage to continue with my PhD and my work. But I am a different person.
As I look back and analyze everything I realize that it was a giant lie from the very beginning. A lie built on the certainty he felt to use me and get away with it because he had been instilled with the certainty from the day he was born that because of his “caste”, there were people in the world – like me – he could use and abuse whichever way he chose.
He knew from the very beginning – despite the “progressive” promises about not caring about caste – a marriage between the two of us would never, ever happen. He knew all along. I was but a piece of meat to him, one he could prepare any way he wanted and indulge in.
That’s all I was.Disclaimer: Name has been changed to keep the identity of the author hidden. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are that of the author and not of the website owner or publisher.