I thought a lot about whether I should write about this topic or not! But then when the voice within rages, you can hardly do anything. And hence I am gathering all my courage and writing my heart out. Because probably I can no more keep it within. I have tried a lot to avoid the external factors affecting me, but I think it has disturbed me to a level where I need to write it down so that at least I can calm myself. And yes, there has been a trigger for the same. And I strongly believe that these experiences need to be shared, the impression that some incidents leave on our minds needs to see light. Because truth has its light, no matter what!
We all know what happened in Delhi recently. Before this incident, the gruesome Nirbhaya case had left me feeling pathetic for many days, then there was the Hathras case which shattered the very base of humanity. I thought nothing could be worse than this. But I was wrong. The recent Shahdara District case of sexual abuse of the victim has impacted me on many levels. There is as if a numbness that I feel within. And the victim is only about twenty years old! I will not go into the details of the news as it is all out for my readers to read. I have only been thinking about the mental condition that the victim would be undergoing right now. Will she ever have a normal life with her family? Maybe yes, maybe no!
Yes, there have been arrests made, and maybe there will be conviction and punishment and it is only wise to leave it to the law to take its action. But will punishment bring back things to normalcy, will it have any impact, will society ever change? I am sorry to sound pessimistic, but I do not see any major shift happening. After a few days, like succumbing to old habits we will go back to our own little lives and easily would just close our eyes because that would be easy! And when easy is available, why choose the difficult path? As a society, we might do that but many women, who have survived many awkward situations while growing up will revisit those haunting memories, close their eyes and pray for the victim, say a few cuss words for the monsters who did this but also would feel a deep pang of hurt while revisiting those dreadful memories of their younger selves. I am no different probably. Just like many, growing up as a girl in our country is not easy. And when you are in your early teens, there are so many difficult situations one has to tackle. I am taking the courage to revisit my past today.
I remember clearly, after scoring well in my tenth exam I was able to enroll myself in one of the best colleges in my state and was on cloud nine. I had chosen to be in the science stream as science was and is my favorite subject. My Physics teacher in my college somehow became very fond of me and wanted me to visit him for additional help. He used to stay closer to my house then. Well, I have always believed in self-study, and taking tuitions was never a part of my study curriculum. But I could not deny him. Firstly, because I revered him for his immense knowledge and secondly he was like a grandfatherly figure showering all the love. And he loved me as I used to raise my hand up and mostly answer or at least try to answer the questions that he would ask in the class. So, after a lot of thinking, I finalized going to him for studies for a brief period. My father, a government employee had gifted me a pink ladybird cycle ( with a black basket on the front ) after I scored well in my tenth exam. I had aspired to get the cycle since class six! Yes, a typical middle-class family never has it easy. But, I had never complained about not having it. Being a tomboy, I would happily ride my father’s old bicycle which was a little higher than the lady’s bicycle, and used to have the rod aligned for male members to ride it. Nonetheless, getting the ladybird cycle, that had then taken the market by storm, was like a dream come true for me then. So elated with the gift, I started cycling my way to Sir’s house for my weekend classes that used to last for about two odd hours. The classes were scheduled in the evening and while visiting Sir’s house, I had to take a stretch of about one odd kilometer that had poor lighting.
That fateful day I was, as usual, cycling my way, when suddenly I felt immense pain in my body. It was so bad that I just closed my eyes as a reaction. The pain had numbed my senses. Someone had hit right on my bust and the force was like an attack. As I opened my eyes, I saw no one! But then within a fraction of a second when I turned my head, I saw someone cross me in the opposite direction. Within seconds I understood that it was a boy, probably two to three years elder to me who had probably planned this whole event after keeping an eye on my schedule for many days. I do not know from where I got the courage, but I turned my cycle and followed him and I shouted out loud. He pedaled faster and so did I. I was about to grab his back but then he just increased his speed and I lost him! That day, I cursed my most prized possession, my ladybird cycle. Had it been my father’s cycle that had bigger wheels, I would have surely caught hold of that fellow that day, maybe. And may have been able to punch him right on his face. And I did all this while my upper body felt numb. I then rushed back home, threw my cycle at the gate, and went home straight into my room. I could not cry but did look pale. I was in a deep state of shock! After interrogation, I narrated the whole incident & I remember the look on my parent’s faces even today. I being the eldest daughter and they being very young then, the whole incident was scary for them and had undoubtedly made them very stressed.
They gave me time to be just myself and then after a few days sat me down to explain that I have to fight it out. Sitting at home is not the cure. Today, at this age, I understand what a brave decision they had taken then, just like many parents do every single day in our country! So, after gathering a lot of courage, I again resumed my tuition classes. My Physics Sir had patted my back then. Yes, for a few days, my father did accompany me, but then I had to go alone. That particular stretch gave me goosebumps for a long time. By God’s grace, I never encountered the culprit ever again. But the memory remained ingrained in my brain. And it took me years to feel loved with the right kind of touch. Even today, if I have to drive a dark stretch, I always have the same memory come back, which with time I have been able to handle better. As I write this, the entire scene as if plays in front of my eyes !!
So, having said my story which happened many years ago, I wonder what has changed today! We can argue that a lot has changed but not the issue of Women’s safety! The only thing that has changed is the resilience of women braving it all, despite all odds. The rage within every woman who goes through obstacles to prove herself never dies and with any such happening, it burns with more power. We talk about women’s liberation, equality, and whatnot, but we have failed to provide a safe space for them to even exist! And this particular case in Delhi has shaken me from within, as this particular crime took place in front of women itself! There were spectators all around and still the crime was conducted without any feeling of hesitation by the accused! There were even children witnessing this! Young men were conducting unnatural sexual assault with the victim. The hearts were so dark that they did not need a dark place to do the horrific assault! It is no more about men vs women anymore. I think it is about the whole human race, which in reality seems to reach a new low with every passing day!
What are we, then? In my opinion, we are all zombies! Dead inside, because our conscience is no more alive! Can we change for good? Will this ever stop? Will women ever stop being treated as easy targets to take revenge, be it by anybody? We people who call our country Bharat Mata, worship Devi idols, yet fail every single day to give the daughters of this country security so that they can live with dignity. Can we do better, ever? Till when will this continue happening? Till when?
See the mirror and ask yourself, at least once!