On a spring evening in 1989, Deepak Ahluwalia pressed a hot iron to his wife’s face, her hair gripped tightly in his fist.
The iron burned her skin as she struggled in his grasp, leaving a mark on her face.
Kiranjit Ahluwalia said the incident after what she says was a decade of abuse at her husband’s hands tipped her over the edge.
“I couldn’t sleep, I was crying so badly. I was in pain, physically and emotionally,” she said years on..
“I wanted to hit him. I wanted to hit him the way he hit me. I wanted to hit him so he could feel the same pain I was feeling. I never thought further. My brain had totally stopped.”
That night, while he slept in bed, she doused her husband’s feet in petrol and set him alight. She grabbed her son and ran out of the house.
“I thought, I’m going to burn his feet, so he won’t be able to run after me. I will give him a scar so he will always remember in the end what his wife did to him. So every time he sees his feet with a scar, he will remember me.”
Kiranjit maintains she did not mean to kill her husband. But 10 days later, Deepak died from his injuries.
In December that year, Kiranjit was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Kiranjit grew up in Punjab, northern India. Despite both her parents dying by the time she was 16, she said her childhood was always very loving.
The youngest of nine siblings, she was doted upon by her older brothers and sisters.
Towards her late teenage years, however, the pressure to marry began to build.
“I never wanted to get married so I went to my sister in Canada. I didn’t want to settle down in India, to get married and have children like my sister-in-law had.
I wanted to work, earn money, live my own life,” she says. But it was something she had to accept after her sister in England found a match.
“He came to see me in Canada. We talked for about five minutes and I said yes. I knew that I couldn’t escape, I had to get married. So that was it. My freedom is gone.”
Recalling her first impressions of her husband, she said he was “very good-looking, handsome and charming” but she never knew when he would snap. One minute he was as good as gold, the next he was horrible.