Rihana and Aman on a bicycle together. (Kalendra Sejuwal/ Republica)
BANKE, Nov 9: “She lives in my heart. I am going to marry her.” A coy Rihana Seikh Dhapali smiled sweetly when Aman Sekh Dhapali uttered those lines. Aman was shy as well, though he was quite firm in his commitment. Rihana, who grabbed headlines in 2014 after her husband tired to burn her alive, and Seikh are madly in love. Both want to get married soon. However, there is an obstacle.
Rihana's husband, who set her on fire for not brining enough dowries, is not ready to divorce her now. “They have not stopped bothering me. I overcame death, but I have not been able to get free of their clutches,” she lamented.
The 22-year-old is worried that she cannot opt for second marriage without formal divorce with her first husband. “The society will not tolerate it. I can marry only if I get divorced first,” Rihana said. Her lover Aman added that the matter should have been much clear and easier to handle in a case like that of Rihana. “But, it is not so. Nobody is ready to understand us,” he said.
Rihana was burnt two and a half years ago. She had returned home after receiving treatment for months at Bir Hospital of Kathmandu. The story of her fighting spirit and ultimate victory to reclaim a normal life back again quite fascinated the media. Initially, she was regularly in the limelight and occasionally later. However, the young girl of Hiriminiya - 8 Ahirpurwar, an inspiration to many burn victims, says that 'she is not free to take decisions of her own life'.
“I filed charges against him and his family. But the police never gave them any punishment,” she lamented. “The police say they are at large, but we know they are roaming around just here,” she added.
According to her father Salin, the government has been protecting the criminals. “When they are getting government's protection, we continue to be helpless,” he said.
Rihana wants a formal divorce. But her husband has said that he is ready to give 'verbal divorce' over phone. “But how would that be acceptable to the court? And even I am always scared of him until he gives me proper divorce,” Rihana said.
The Muslim culture is strict regarding love or marriage. So, going against the culture and deciding for herself could be troublesome, said Rihana.
Aman was her childhood friend. He was in Mumbai when he heard about Rihana's tragic story of being burnt by her husband. He felt very emotional and upon his return to Nepal, he was at the service of Rihana. Later, he got back to Mumbai for work.
“However, within that span of time, we had started to feel special about each other. I started missing her after reaching Mumbai,” explained Aman while revealing how the couple fell in love.