In a pink-walled room of a government office at the foot of the Himalayas, Indian women spend their days canceling the passports of runaway husbands.
Midday on a Monday, the father of a woman who married a merchant marine is explaining how the husband lied about being single and failed to disclose the fact that he had a child and a warrant for his arrest. The case, says worker Amritpal Kaur (below), should qualify for immediate impoundment of the man’s passport.
When Ekampreet was 3, Sarbjeet tried to commit suicide by drinking rat poison. Five years later, she tried again by slitting her wrists. She went twice to a hospital in Amritsar for depression.
Now, she says, she is stronger. In March, Sarbjeet, applied to have Singh’s passport impounded. Satwinder, whom she met late last year, helped. Eventually, the passport office called to say it was done.
When asked about her father, Ekampreet says only that she wants to ask him what she did wrong and why he left her. Shuffling through a stack of pictures, she comes across a wedding photo of her parents, her mother in a bright red and gold sari. She quickly buries it in the looked-at pile.
PHOTO EDITING GABRIELLE FONSECA JOHNSON; TEXT EDITING KARI HOWARD; Additional reporting Blassy Boben and Byron Kaye