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Her mother, Lilavati Devi, says she was a child when she was married to her husband, Raj Mohan Singh, who was a few years older. Now 60, Lilavati Devi has spent most of her adult life within the confines of her small, mud-walled home. |
她母亲里拉瓦蒂•德维(Lilavati Devi)说，自己与丈夫拉吉•莫罕•辛格(Raj Mohan Singh)结婚时还是个孩子，丈夫比她大了几岁。现年60岁的里拉瓦蒂成年后的生活大多局限在自己那个泥 小家之内。
Many women in this part of India use Devi as their last name. The word means 'goddess' in Hindi. But it isn't a sign of the relative status of women. 'To us, husbands are our gods,' says Sudha Devi, a government health worker in Karmalahang and no relation to Punita Devi. 'We can't think of being equal.'
Ms. Devi's parents arranged her marriage to Mr. Singh in 2010. The connection was made through a woman from a neighboring village who was married to one of Mr. Singh's older brothers.
'I wasn't forced into it, but it was a decision taken by my parents. This is how it works here in the countryside,' Ms. Devi says. 'In a woman's life, marriage and her husband are everything.'
Both families belong to the relatively high-ranking Rajput caste and are farmers. 'It was a fine match,' says Lilavati Devi. In May 2010 she sent her daughter off with a simple dowry: a wooden bed and some kitchen utensils.
'I told her to live well and peacefully with her family-her new family,' Lilavati Devi says.
The first two years of marriage went smoothly. Her husband Mr. Singh, 28, is the youngest of three brothers. So Ms. Devi settled into a household that included not just her parents-in-law, but also Mr. Singh's siblings and their wives and children.
Her new village, Karmalahang, is about 18 miles from the Grand Trunk Road, a commercial route since ancient times that connects Kolkata in eastern India to the Afghan capital of Kabul, and sits at the foot of the Kaimur Hills.
她的新家所在的村庄Karmalahang离主道公路(Grand Trunk Road)约18英里（合29公里）。这条路自古就是商业路线，连接印度东部的加尔各答与阿富汗首都喀布尔，位于盖穆尔山(Kaimur Hills)脚下。
The mountains block water-laden air and create what is known as a rain shadow over Karmalahang, making farming for the 1,500 people here a precarious existence. That, combined with a lack of industry, drives many young men from the area to head to cities for jobs.
Mr. Singh and his brothers, none of whom finished high school, were no exception. From their earnings, each would send about $30 to $45 a month to support the extended family.
'I never asked him where he was or what he was doing,' says Ms. Devi. 'I knew he went to earn money.'
In June 2011, Ms. Devi gave birth to a son. The child was prone to lung infections, but Mr. Singh's earnings were enough to pay for monthly doctor's visits and medicine.
Since Mr. Singh's December arrest, his family has been thrown into upheaval. His brothers, Vinay and Abhay, who had also been working around Delhi, left their jobs for three months to help out at home, straining household finances. The family's reputation has been damaged.
In April, Ms. Devi took an overnight train trip to New Delhi, her first visit to the capital, to see her husband in jail. When she caught her first glimpse of him through the glass partition in the visitors' area, she says, she started to cry.
'Keep yourself and the child well,' Mr. Singh told her, according to Ms. Devi. She says he told her: 'I will come home. I am innocent.'
But without her husband's wages, Ms. Devi says, she hasn't been able to get medical treatment for her son. The child's diet is also suffering, as mother and child subsist on handouts from Mr. Singh's brothers and their wives.
'I feel weak,' says Ms. Devi. 'Nobody thinks well of a woman whose husband isn't with her for support.'
Ms. Devi's father, Raj Mohan Singh, says his daughter can't return to the home he and his wife share with their son's family. 'We won't be able to look after her,' he says. 'Her brother can't support her, either. He isn't able to look after himself. How can he look after Punita?'
Ms. Devi doesn't know where to turn. 'Is there anyone who is thinking of me?' she asked, crying after learning of the death sentence. 'I am alive and I have a small child who is still breathing.'