The darker side of V-Day: marriages on rocky road

Valentine's Day is associated with a splash of red ' hearts, balloons, dresses, teddies, cards, ribbons ' and mushy things like candle-lit dinners, river cruises, long drives and chocolates. The proceedings at the principal family court on Thursday, however, told a different tale.

Twenty divorce hearings were scheduled throughout the day, while three fresh cases were filed.

Ramakant Prasad Verma, a lawyer at the Patna civil court, said: "Whether it's Valentine's Day or not, it has nothing to do with these divorce cases. There are a few cases where both the parties get mutual divorce on their wedding anniversaries."

In contrast to feelings of love, compassion and devotion and the veil of commercialisation of V-Day were echoes of couples in the family court: "Nothing says 'I love you' like divorce papers."

Mitali Kumari (name changed), present for hearing in the court on Thursday, said: "Love is blind. But some couples tend to go deaf and mute to say 'I love you, will you be my Valentine?' But what about those burdened with troubled relationships?" Mitali filed her divorce case in 2002.

In 2012, five divorce cases were filed on V-Day. The cases were related to dowry, adultery, financial recklessness and incompatibility. The couples were granted mutual divorce within six months.

People assume V-Day to be more popular with singletons and even married couples. But the underlying reality is that all is not so rosy in love and marriages are breaking apart. And the break-ups become more brutal when the date is February 14.

"Frankly speaking, I was so busy with the case that it just skipped my mind that it is V-Day today," said Rekha Kumari (name changed), a resident of Danapur. Rekha has filed a case accusing her husband of torturing her. She said: "I am happy not to be with my husband. The only gifts I got from my Valentine were abuses and punches on my face." Rekha's parents are pressurising her to reconcile with her husband and make a fresh start.

Analysing the reasons behind rise in divorce cases, psychiatrist Dr Vinay Kumar Singh said: "Domestic violence, drinking, extramarital affair, demand for hidden dowry, financial recklessness, incompatibility, inability to support the family and dishonesty are the most common grounds on which divorces are sought nowadays. Domestic conflicts in families are giving way to divorce."

Offering advice to those going through a rough patch, Dr Singh said: "I think V-Day is the best day to dump your sour relationship and give a new start to your life. One should never be in grief on this day, as it might affect the person mentally and finally lead to depression."

Taking the advice in the right spirit, Vikas Singh (name changed) was raring to give his life a new start.

Vikas, who has filed a divorce suit against his wife, seemed relaxed at the court. "I found this day perfect to file a case seeking freedom from my wife. She should now understand the importance of love at least. She will now understand how it feels when your Valentine is not by your side."

Defending his decision, Vikas said: "I am only 30 and got married in 2011. I just don't want to ruin my life by dragging this relationship to its worst. How can you find new love without closing the old chapter?"

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