‘Second wife’ spells fresh trauma
Hyderabad, May 25: Each time Taliban victim K. Suryanarayana’s “second wife” surfaces with a fresh demand, his tragedy-numbed family suffers a new blow.
When Gogula Swapna appeared at the Malkajgiri house’s doorstep for the first time on May 1, claiming a wife’s rights, the slain telecom engineer’s wife Manjula tried to kill herself by drinking acid.
Now, with the 28-year-old Swapna staging a hunger strike in front of the house — threatening self-immolation if the family does not “accept” her within a week — Suryanarayana’s grieving father has had a heart attack.
As K. Chandrasekhara was rushed to hospital this evening, Swapna ended her two-day-old hunger strike and said she would fight her case in court.
With Manjula still recovering in hospital with a severely damaged stomach and bowels, her mother-in-law Annapurnamma has left the house with her three young grandchildren to stay with relatives.
Till this afternoon, Swapna had been fasting in a tent in the company of activists from women’s bodies, including the Marxist All India Democratic Women’s Association, and supporters from her village. As curious passers-by stopped to see what it was all about, she handed them leaflets.
To Chandrasekhara and his wife Annapurnamma, still traumatised by their son’s death and daughter-in-law’s suicide attempt, it was all too much.
“Manjula is still in hospital. What can I say? Let her come back; she and Swapna can sit and discuss between themselves what they should do,” Chandrasekhara had said hours before his heart attack, described as “mild”.
He was also depressed that the scandal had robbed Suryanarayana of the official honours the government would normally have accorded a citizen killed by militants on foreign soil.
“Whatever he did, my son didn’t deserve such a death or a cursory funeral,” Chandrasekhara said.
With the controversy marring pubic sympathy for the slain engineer, many of the invitees had skipped the 13th-day ceremony.
Swapna had arrived at the house the day after Suryanarayana’s death was announced, carrying her nine-month-old baby and seeking recognition as his second wife. She asked to be allowed to attend the funeral while her relatives demanded the family give the baby, Nidhisha, a share of the Rs 55-lakh compensation.
After initial resistance, the family let her have her wish to avoid more unpleasantness. Swapna was also allowed to take part in the 13th-day ritual in place of the hospitalised Manjula.
The police, who posted a picket before Swapna’s tent, had advised her to approach the courts and get a judgment to make things easier for everybody. She had refused.
Today, she said she had no choice. “I don’t want to appear a villain and crucify the family in their moment of pain and despair.”