‘The love I dreamt of for 12 years lasted just 15 days’
17 yrs ago, Jayesh Pandya went to the US leaving his wife and their six-month-old daughter behind. After meeting them only once during this period, he is now offering his wife money to divorce him.
A 24-year-old woman had dreamt of a comfortable life with her husband who left for the United States soon after their first wedding anniversary. Seventeen years later, the woman and her daughter’s longing continues, but the man has deserted them for the comforts of a western life.
Jigna Pandya, 41, knocked the doors of the court last Friday against her husband for maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC and filed an application under the Domestic Violence Act against her husband and in-laws.
Devami, who was almost 12 then, couldn’t control her tears and hugged him when they met. This was the first time in her knowing years she was seeing her father in flesh and blood. However, their meeting was short-lived.
Says Devami, who has scored 72 per cent marks in class 12 and is waiting to enrol in a college, “My father picked me up when I was six months old. I have no memories of those moments, but when I saw him in Mumbai I hugged him and cried. The love I longed for 12 years lasted only for 15 days. Dad returned to America, giving us hope that I and mom would soon join him. I used to often tell dad on phone that we can live comfortably in India, but he used to say that the lifestyle there was too good to be renounced and that he would call us there. But the promises were empty.”
For the next five years, Jayesh kept dodging them and gave them one excuse after another for not calling them over.
In 2010, Jigna came to know that her husband had already become a US citizen. When she confronted him, he asked her to send their police verification certificates, birth certicates and passport copies. Jigna promptly sent the copies through email in December 2010.
There was a flicker of hope on April 13, 2011, when they got a call from the US consulate in Mumbai for a visa interview. At the consular office they were asked to deposit two drafts totalling Rs 36,600. However, their visa was rejected after the visa authorities realised that Jayesh had sent the Green Card papers for his wife and child instead of citizenship papers.
Says Jigna, “I have not received my husband’s love for more than 17 years. But what wrong has my daughter done? Why should she be devoid of her father’s love? She has just started her life.”
“Now, my husband is offering me money for divorce. Did I wait for 17 years to separate from my husband?”, she asks.
According to Jigna, her husband deliberately left them behind. Through advocate Dharamvir Gosai, Jigna filed an application in the family court last Friday for maintenance. On her application, the family court has issued a notice to Jayesh Pandya at his workplace in Los Angeles.
“He has not cared to send money for our maintenance for the past four months. He works at Annes Motel in Los Angeles and earns $7,000 (Rs 3.15 lakh) per month. He lives a luxurious life while I and my daughter are living a blighted life,” says Jigna.
Jigna has also filed an application under the Domestic Violence Act against Jayesh Pandya, father-in-law Bhalchandra Pandya, mother-in-law Vasumati, brother-in-law Jitesh and sisters-in-law Pallavi and Priti.
She said, “As per custom my parents had given me gold and other valuables which is now in the custody of my in-laws. After the birth of my daughter, my in-laws had started harassing me physically and mentally, saying that I did not bring anything from my family. When I couldn’t bear the humiliation any longer, I shifted to my parents’ place in Maninagar in 1995.”
Despite their tragic story, Jigna and Devami have managed to hold their head high in society. However, there is a tinge of sadness in Devami’s voice when she says, “When I see others of my age with their father, I too long for my father’s love, though my mother has never let me feel his absence. My uncle Vipulbhai is our everything. He has always stood by us and made us feel at home. He has looked after me as his own daughter.”