Happy fam­i­lies, Un­happy fam­i­lies

Fol­low­ing the broad­cast­ing of the new Muk­er­jea taped con­ver­sa­tions this week, Malavika Sang­ghvi pens a let­ter to Rahul Muk­er­jea

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Malavikas­mum­bai@ gmail. com

Dear Rahul, For­give me if I'm of­ten at a loss for words through the course of this let­ter.

The thing is, I, like per­haps the rest of the na­tion, want to know ( and know it through prime time TV chan­nels), have been reel­ing ever since I heard the al­leged con­ver­sa­tions that tran­spired be­tween you and your fa­ther Peter and step­mother In­drani Muk­er­jea, which you are said to have taped shortly af­ter the dis­ap­pear­ance of your 24- year- old fi­ancé Sheena Bora in April 2012.

What came through the con­ver­sa­tions is the ab­ject lack of em­pa­thy, ba­sic hu­man kind­ness and de­cency on the part of your par­ents, in par­tic­u­lar your fa­ther, while talk­ing to his own flesh and blood: a son who not only has to deal with the wor­ry­ing dis­ap­pear­ance of his loved one, but also of the fact that he’d been per­haps re­jected for some­one else.

I am not go­ing to go into the ac­tual mur­der of Sheena, that un­for­tu­nate child, who’d been promised a long over­due ‘ fun evening of shop­ping and din­ner with her mother', only to be killed by her own hands. The stran­gling, the keep­ing in the garage all night, the burn­ing of and sub­se­quent stuff­ing into a suit­case. Those acts are be­yond the ken of most and un­fath­omable for their bar­bar­ity.

I am re­fer­ring to the sim­ple act of how a par­ent, any par­ent, deals with a son whose heart is aching and bro­ken. In the tapes, time and again, we hear Peter ad­mon­ish you about search­ing for your lost fi­ancé ( who also hap­pened to be his al­leged sis­terin- law). No em­pa­thy, no com­fort­ing, no con­cern in the least, not for the lost girl, nor the wor­ried son. “Eat some­thing, go for a work out, get hold of your life, move on,” are the oft- re­peated words he says to you.

What’s worse is the way he mocks your at­tempts to trace Sheena: “Well, if you want to go parad­ing all over the Taj...” we hear him say at one point, with In­drani cack­ling in the back­ground. Acts of omis­sion and com­mis­sion that stag­ger the imag­i­na­tion and run con­trary to ev­ery tenet of how par­ents should con­duct them­selves.

Through your deep sighs, your dogged per­se­ver­ance, your ab­ject con­cern about Sheena’s dis­ap­pear­ance, what comes strik­ingly through is the fact that through this unimag­in­ably dys­func­tional fam­ily and its tan­gled lines, your love for Sheena and pre­sum­ably hers for you, was the one pure thing in your star- crossed and un­for­tu­nate lives: the shin­ing lo­tus that some­how blos­somed in the dank and trou­bled wa­ter of the Muk­er­jea- Bora house­hold, and thank God for that.

Through your in­creas­ingly more wor­ried and de­spair­ing con­ver­sa­tions, we hear your pride in Sheena’s work ethic and pro­fes­sional suc­cess, how she’d con­ducted her­self with dig­nity and ef­fi­ciency at her place of work and had won ex­cel­lent rat­ings from her col­leagues. How your con­cern for her safety went far be­yond the “self­ish” mo­tive of get­ting her back. How, even when your par­ents tried to im­ply that she’d flown off with an­other man, you re­fused to buy that line or play the jealous boyfriend, af­ford­ing her the ben­e­fit of doubt even as they at­tempted to plant di­a­bol­i­cal thoughts in your poor, bro­ken heart so that you would for­get her.

Hear­ing th­ese con­ver­sa­tions Rahul, has given a whole new spin to Tol­stoy’s fa­mous ax­iom: ‘ Happy fam­i­lies are all alike; ev­ery un­happy fam­ily is un­happy in its own way'.

It will be a long time be­fore we can wade through the tan­gled web of the Muk­er­jeaBora clan and how it ran con­trary to ev­ery tenet of what a fam­ily ought to be.

But my point runs deeper. My point here is that phys­i­cal vi­o­lence is one thing, but of­ten the emo­tional vi­o­lence we wrest on oth­ers, es­pe­cially those clos­est to us, is of­ten as heinous and stom­ach- churn­ing and crim­i­nal.

For­get the mur­der and the cover up and all the mind- numb­ing acts sur­round­ing the Sheena Bora mur­der. Even on the sim­ple grounds of child abuse, your par­ents ought to be in­dicted in any court of law. Be­cause this is not how par­ents be­have; this is not what they bring chil­dren into this world for. This is not how fam­i­lies are meant to be.

So for what­ever it’s worth, for your true and shin­ing love and dogged per­se­ver­ance and tak­ing on your fa­mous and pow­er­ful fam­ily, I send you a deep, warm hug to try and make up for all the com­fort­ing and con­cern that you so ob­vi­ously are in need of, and that you so pal­pa­bly de­serve.

May you find the strength to weather the heinous atroc­i­ties that have been wrested on you by your own fam­ily and some­day have faith in the good­ness and kind­ness of hu­man­ity again.

And yes, for Sheena’s sake, may you find true love once again.

With ev­ery good wish, etc,

The colum­nist be­lieves in the art of let­ter writ­ing

( Views ex­pressed are the colum­nist’s own)

Rahul Muk­er­jea

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