Thursday, 12 June 2014


My eyes dart in all directions. This is the only time when I felt like a chameleon. Being able to look at diverse places at once. I have to as a recurring thought nags my head. It’s late and I'm alone in this auto rickshaw. There is more than one route to go home from work. Today the driver has decided to take a different route. One less congested and devoid of traffic. 

I sit back reluctantly and look around. Few people on the streets. Fewer cars on the road. A thousand scenarios gallop through my mind.

What if someone were to get in forcefully? What if this auto driver has an insidious agenda of his own that I am unaware of? What if I'm whisked off to some secluded place? What if he has others like him hiding? Waiting patiently. He is a stranger after all. What do I know about him? Nothing. Would things be different if I was with someone? Someone I knew? Would it have made a difference? He/she could've been easily overpowered or rendered helpless. Or worse. He could've been a part of it. Someone who I may have trusted only to have it broken in a million shards.

Did it really matter?

My fate hung in the air of uncertainty. I got nervous. But I didn't want to show it. I snaked my hand inside my bag searching for my phone. Finding it I quickly call my mom. I hear her voice and I relax minutely. She inquires about me in a concerned manner. There's worry painted all over it though she tries to veil it failing terribly. I speak to her in a much louder tone than I usually would trying to scare away all the frightening thoughts in my mind. And maybe to show the driver that I'm not alone.

Did it really matter?

For all I know I could be speaking to my mother for the last time. She might never be able to hear me again. Today morning could have been the last time when I saw her. Hugged her. Did I even say goodbye properly before leaving? What were my last words to her? A flood of memories from this morning trickled in. She was her usual self. Running around the whole house, assembling things for me while I perused through my new phone. I kept pestering her that I was getting late and that I needed my lunch ready and packed soon. She was warning me against the dangers of texting or listening to music while I’m walking and not paying attention to the vehicles on the road. I wasn't giving any heed. Just the semblance of it. She had been wary of what I was wearing. It had been a button down shirt I'd bought for myself for my birthday. My mom thought it was too sheer. I bade a hasty adieu and scurried out shaking my head at her reservations regarding my clothes.

Did it really matter?

As I sat recalling this I felt a sting at the back of my throat. One that beckons incoming waterworks. Isn’t this what every girl in my country goes through? Aren’t all the mother’s here as helpless and harrowed when it comes to their daughter’s well being as my mom? And the most important question that bugs me – does it really matter? Does it really matter what I’m wearing? Does it really matter what age bracket do I fit in? Am I a 5 year old child? A woman in her twenties? Or a lady nearing old age? Where do I come from? Where do I live? A metropolitan and allegedly progressive city? Or an never-before-heard tiny village filled with regressed minds? Or a stranger from another country just visiting? What job do I have? What time do I get home? Do I go out at night? Do I go out alone? Do I hang around in clubs? Do I follow the rule book and be somebody else’s definition of a good girl? What do I eat? Do I drink too much and invite unwanted incidents? Do I smoke and give the impression of being that girl? Do I provoke someone? Do I elicit such reactions? Is it all me? Is it my fault?

Did it really matter?

Because no matter how horrendous his crime is, at the end of the day he might be sent to correctional facility. Or he will be declared a juvenile just 1 month shy of reaching 18 years of age. Or he will never get caught, move to another city, get a respectable job at a bank only to commit this atrocity once again. Or he would exercise his powerful influences and walk away scot-free. Or he would be sentenced to a minimum sentence of a few years while the victim has it etched in her mind, body and soul for life. Or he would become a part of an ongoing trial that goes on for years while the victim’s parents live with and face the horror every day. 

Yes, words of courage would be spoken. Motivational speeches will be given. Tears would be shed. Crowds will gather. Candle light vigils would be organized. We would all grapple with changing mindsets. Sensationalism would prevail. It would all be politicized. Mudslinging would take place. Countries would jump at the chance to point out each other’s weaknesses. Jeer at them. All the while forgetting what has really happened. Discounting the little voice nobody heard. It would all be painfully analyzed. Scrutinized until they find the faults. And the crown of liability would always be worn by the woman. She would be called names. She would be viewed as the culprit who incited others. The one who asked for it because of what she did, said or wore.

It will all come back to her.


Pawan Hegde said...

It's scary not only for the girl, but also for the family of the girl involved. And some of the statements by our 'leaders' are nothing but shameful.

The Wanderer said...

Very true Pawan. The girl and her family have to suffer the unfathomable pain that comes with such an incident. And the fact that these 'leaders' have no idea how their careless statements are impacting all the women in the country is even more appalling.

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