Thursday, January 3, 2013

It Could Have Been Me Or You

Yes it could have been me when I think of that fateful day on a dithery December morning in my second year of graduation.

Back then the blue line buses plied on Delhi's roads and they were known to be notoriously accidental. Even then many of us had no viable options at our disposal and we took such buses to go to college. In the cold winter days, dad was my messiah for the lifts he gave me to the bus stop saved my day and energy. 

On one such day, dad was busy to have given me a lift and I had to fend for myself. I boarded one of those beastly buses and hoped to reach the bus stop on time from where I had to take a second bus to college. Contrary to my belief, me and the other passengers were dropped mid way in a careless act of charity. I took my call and decided to walk on that bone chilling December morning. The sun had started to peep through the fog and that was the only reason I decided to walk and cover the distance to the bus stop from where I boarded another bus to the college. While rambling across the deserted dingy alleys leading to the ring road, in lazy uneasiness my eyes rolled back to see three people moving after me. I rubbed my eyes lids to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating. Oh yes! I wasn't. Three men were following me and as I kept walking, their shadows started swelling in size. Too numbed to understand the severity of the situation I decided to not stop and my eyes kept wandering around myself to make sure if help was at hand. I pranced on the road much like a zebra and recited every prayer I had learned as a child. For once, I wasn't sure about whether I'll ever reach my desired destination and be saved from the clutches of the monsters who wanted to harm me for some mysterious reasons. 
Images of mom, dad and Roger and the happier times we had as a family were playing in my mind like a Bollywood movie. Of having made my way into the crowded streets, those skeletons were swallowed by the soil.  They disappeared in the thin air as I took to the busy roads fulls of cars and people. Were they robbers or did they want to kidnap me and take me away? I do not know. As I entered the gates of the bus stop from where I boarded my bus from, I heaved a sigh of relief . I really did not know what to make of it. To think of it I really did not know what lured them to me? The fact that I was all alone or the black claustrophobic cardigan I was wearing to beat the chill or the unoccupied streets on a marooned morning. Yes it could have been me then.

It could have been me when I took an auto all by myself, or walked on my own on a lonely street because no autos were willing to ferry me back home. It could have been me on an evening when I was walking carelessly on the roads with my women friends after a party, or on a night when I hurriedly boarded a bus which had no women passengers and just three to five male passengers. It could have been me had I not been a coy cat and suppressed retaliation when a man haunted by his hormones brushed past me. 

 Yes it could have been me that is why I braved the whining winters and chose to not huddle up at home. And went for the silent marches and protests at the Raisina hills and India gate to light a candle in her name. Even though that did not bring her back to life. That didn't even get her perpetrators justice, and I hear that one of them will be booked under the Juvenile justice act only because he is months away from turning eighteen. That means this devil wont get his due.

I don't know, whom to blame? The failing political machinery that did not even get her a respectable funeral and in the first place let such an incident happen or the policemen who get sold for a few thousand rupees to circumvent the arm of law. The bus in which she was mauled had been fined eight times and impounded twice in the past two years. Could a harsher penalty structure have prevented this crime from happening,  asked a top cop from Delhi on Twitter.
Or the sons of patriarchal misogyny who do not think twice before hooting at me like a street dog or ask me directions while I wait for a bus or auto. So also, should the women who say all of India is unsafe be blamed. The other day I saw a middle aged man masturbating at the AIIMS metro station in public view with no one to repel his cowardly crime. The policemen at that time might have been too busy filling their pockets with challans or would not have bothered to move from their chairs, maybe that is why no one dared to take note and report the matter to the cops. Yes a girl did and her post appeared on the Safe Delhi blog but she was shrugged by the person who attended her call.  I do not know what is wrong with this city called Delhi and people not living here, do not know what it takes to be a woman in Delhi.

Perhaps since it is the den of politicians and high profile businessmen who enjoy a carte blanche owing to their money and status, criminals get to walk scot free, both the famous and ordinary. Or isn't anyone bothered to grant women their "human rights"?

The fight is on, and this time I hope the citizens have risen from slumber to salvage their spaces. 
It is not just a mother's daughter's, wife's or sister's fight. It is your fight, it is my fight. It is every Nirbhaya's fight from Manipur, Kashmir,  Delhi and from every part of the country whose perpetrators are walking freely when they should have been wearing the gallows.  It is a human being's fight who deserves as much freedom and respect as her counterpart called man.

I go speechless when mom says "Now you know why we keep calling you, when you decide to come home late?" I now know why and do not utter a word in protest. 

The eight pm rule is back with  a bang. After all caution is the parent of safety. 

I wish the nation had risen against this rape culture ages ago, when a woman was raped in some part of this country and everyone had to blame her lifestyle or clothing for the occurrence of the incident.  Maybe a young life could have been saved, another unassuming victim to the popular Rape Culture this nation takes pride in. 
I get jitters when I try to imagine myself in her shoes, in Nirbhaya's shoes. I do not want another Nirbhaya to be born in me or in you.

5 comments: said...

The horrific experiences you have recounted give one the jitters and correctly highlight the sorry state of even day-to-day life for women in Delhi. :( Really hope and pray that things will change for the better.

Prasannakumary Raghavan said...

What a horrendous place that the capital city of India is;for those of us siting far away and conjure up it in the fashion of the capital cities of other countries, the situations of the delhi rape is something that cannot be comprehended and now to hear that it is part of your daily life, and that of many more like you make me really wonder about so many things of what we call our country India is. I do not know what to tell you, 'keep brave' does not make any sense.

I do not think even if the six ones are beheaded in public it is not going to make India or delhi safe for its females.

In my pain and anger, I also have also written something , you can read it here.

Rachna said...

Yes, it could have been me or you. I was brought up in Mumbai where everyone commuted by buses and trains. I don't know if I was lucky or if it was safer back then but it was safer. We even had incidents where a man was beaten up in the bus when a woman raised an alarm. Yes, the lewd comments, the stares, the smiles and the brushing past is almost common. I have traveled on so many occasions late at night by taxi or train. But hell no, I can't do that now. I completely understand when parents impose deadlines. The world has become demented. Keeping my fingers crossed that something will come out of this.

sridevi datta said...

Let us hope at least now the Nation wakes up . We have put up with enough !

Bhavana Nissima said...

Very well written, Rinzu! Yes it could have always been anyone...and thats why we need to protest. Not just protest but commit our lives to gain our freedom. May we get it! In solidarity, Rinzu with you and your friends in Delhi!