Nothing Ever Changes


Dear Ezra and Lian,

When your grandpa was the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Nashik, Maharashtra, India, he told me about investigating the deaths of women. These women died due to explosions in their kitchens and the resulting fires. Since electricity supply is so unreliable, almost everybody cooks with gas hooked up to cylinders. In these cases, the women’s deaths were all made to look accidental. It happens all over India, 1000’s of times a year. Except, it’s not accidental. Your grandfather knew it. His investigating officers knew it. Everybody in India knows that when they read in the paper that a woman died in a kitchen “accidental” explosion, it probably wasn’t really an accident. Therefore the official statistics woefully under-report this crime.

These women die because her husband or her husband’s family are mad at them. The most likely cause is they failed to pay all the dowry they promised to the husband’s family. As a result, the woman is killed. No matter how much your grandfather questioned the family, nobody cracks. A whole family of parents, brothers and sisters, husband and sometimes even children, nobody ever says what they really saw. If there was just one witness who was willing to testify, then the police officers could press charges and keep the murderers in jail for a criminal trial. The problem is, nobody tells the truth. They all lie through their teeth to protect the family from criminal prosecution.

Your grandfather is a very strong man. He saw things that would make me literally break down and go crazy. The guilty go free. Women are killed with impunity. It seems like nothing ever changes in India. I’m sure he was told to just accept that it was just the way things are. I know he tried to make a difference. Once he put away a crime boss, only to see him released by a corrupt judge or prosecutor. He didn’t give any favouritism to powerful politicians when they were in jail, despite having their family call his office.

My old friend Fela could be one such person to change things (not dowry deaths; corruption). If he told the truth about everything he knew, things would change. A government would fall. People would go to jail. Maybe an entire public servant culture would gradually reform itself. Who knows maybe it would open the floodgates to a different way of life.

The problem is that Fela not only couldn’t see India or Mizoram changing, he couldn’t see himself changing. He felt trapped by his past. He didn’t see a way he could be a different man. He knew the Bible backwards and forwards, as much as many preachers, but he couldn’t believe in that book’s God. He only saw men using the Bible and God for their own advantage. He couldn’t believe in a Jesus that would change his life or save him from anything. He couldn’t jump into an unknown future and hope the arms of Jesus would catch him. He knew one thing; he felt better when he drank. Fela could trust in alcohol to lessen the pain and the guilt.

Where there is no hope, nothing ever changes. My life-long goal for you, is that you will always have hope. Things and people can change. Miracles do happen.