Monday, October 5, 2015


I am haunted by a name – Janhavi Gadkar. When the story broke, like the average Mumbai voyeur, I followed it avidly not because of the condemnation heaped upon Janhavi’s head but because it raised one burning question,‘Why?’

All I know of her is what the media told me.  Accurate? I know from experience not to trust everything I read, but the basics were corroborated across the board and one can draw inferences that are pretty close to reality.  Here was an attractive young woman, from a fairly conservative but educated Maharashtrian background, better off than just merely well to do, evidently smart because she qualified for a top post with Reliance, well read and well travelled.

She was obviously on the up and up, ‘in’ with her colleagues – on the social front, at least – and one who inspired affection (Her ex-husband came forward for her and that must make her special. The ‘ex’ usually moves on and never looks back!). Her happiness spills over in her photos and she seemed to be in love with life.  When everything is going your way, why would you throw it all away?

I do not ask why she was driving while inebriated.  I ask why she was inebriated in the first place.  Why did she put so much store in the pub culture, in social drinking where she matched her male colleagues in their ability to imbibe what was clearly ‘over the limit’?  Why would anyone want to lose self-control or choose to be deliberately vulnerable to external influences? That, too, after more than one bad experience? When did she start and why?

For some time, Janhavi was erased from the news thanks to the ‘Sheena Bora’ case, but today her name popped up again and the questions came flooding back. Yes, she took a life. But she is not a murderer.  And, unless she is extremely thick skinned, she will have to live with the horror for the rest of her life. She will have to start over, if ever she is given the chance and so will her family. In a sense, even if she gets off with a light sentence, she will, in reality, serve a life term.

Why would someone for whom life was opening up in amazing ways do something so stupid?


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