We went to Lanka Dharmavaram yesterday and met Yedla Ademma who was featured in Arthur Bonner’s article on Bhagavatula Charitable Trust. She is now president of the Mahila Mandla group. After chit chatting on various issues we hit upon the topic of dowry. For the first 5-10 minutes, we felt like we were just spouting off our liberal / politically correct views but then she also acknowledges that they would prefer to do say with it. So then the conversation got a bit more detailed. They talked about how this dowry issue affected other aspects of the girls life such as education and inheritance — and also how the dowry was exactly asked for and given. They said the girls mother would often raise the topic first and the boy’s family would ask for it in advance of the wedding. In the couse of the conversation a boy came out of the house and said not every boy demands so blatantly — many people objected saying it happened here and it happened there — so he said, “yeah …. అవుతూనే ఉంటుంది కాని మీరు అందరు అట్లాగే ఉంటారంతున్నారు, అందుకని నేను చెప్తున్నాను.” (Yes, it does happen, but you are saying that everyone is like that, that is why I am telling.)
So we asked him if he would take dowry and he said no — then Ademma garu said, “రాసిస్తావా?” (Will you give it in writing?) So I gave him a piece of paper on which he signed that under no circumstances would he take dowry.
[From Notebook: Natraj Supreme Deluxe. not dated, probably from late 1998]