She watched the news with horror. For a minute, the whole world seemed to be crumbling down beneath her own feet. Did the minister just say what he said? How could he possibly have said it? And did people really comment that way? After ALL that had happened, after the entire universe seemed to have come to a standstill, after the haunting nights and the most malicious of souls that had changed one of her happiest nights to the defining point of her life.
She had her laptop open. She needed a whole week to muster enough courage to see what proportions the news had assumed. Now all she could do was to watch; watch the culprits, watch the evil smirks, watch the business of the road and hear the blaring traffic. “Don’t take deserted paths”, her mother had cautioned her. Ever since she was a child. “Take busy routes. Walk where there are people. You are a girl. Remember”, she had said. Tears welled up in her eyes. But, she. She had taken the busiest road, the one that stayed up all night.
“What was she doing at a bar at that unearthly hour?”, one comment flashed below the news clip. “This is what happens when girls go to bars at nights with guys. Could they not have dinner at some quiet place?”, another suggested. “Gandhiji said that India will be free when a woman can walk at night without being harassed, but he did not say that women can drink liquor at bars”, another comment flashed.
She realized that she had dug her nails into the sofa. She was overcome with disbelief. Soaked in pain, unable to face people, still trying to come to terms with her present – she did not know what overwhelmed her more at that moment.
She hated herself. She hated her for pleading them to let her go. She wished she could laugh at their faces when they abused her. She wished she could have shown that none of those sadistic souls could shake her. Ever. But what happened to her that minute? Was it the group? Or did she rely on someone to help her?
“We will take this to the Supreme Court. The criminals have to be punished.” Ofcourse. They would be sent to jail, given a cup of coffee and soon their lawyer would bail them out even before they were done with coffee. She seemed to have become some sort of a celebrity. Everyone seemed to rally their cause around her.
But the nights scared her. She knew where the cuprits were.
The influx of people to her house would soon reduce drastically and she would be another forgotten sensation. She knew it.
“Parents must not allow their daughters to go out at such late hours”, another comment flashed. Why? Because sick people like you lurk around? She hated them all. She hated everyone.of.them.
Everyone seemed to wake up from a trance. And soon, they would go back into it. Very very soon. She was lucky there was a video. Yes, video. She wondered if the cameraman would have so eagerly captured the video if it was his own sister or wife. But then, everyone seemed to be asking that question. Only, the question was a cliche.
She felt detached. She could not think of work. There had been no calls. No friends. She just could not get herself to take that bus to work again. She could no longer overlook the groping, that conductor who moved his palms over her wrist and palm before taking the change. Or, that old spectacled man who looked right into her chest lasciviously. What if she met that man who flashed his private part as he sped across her in his broken black Kinetic?
She was fed up of overhearing other parents giving her example to refrain their daughters from going out. What were they even teaching? Why were they cringing in fear and getting protective while all they had to go out and do was fight?
Fight. Everyone seemed to have forgotten what it meant. Fight was now restricted to political debates, who did what, how must they be punished, outrageous war cries that never ever signal war and criminals basking in the attention. After a month, everyone would get busy with their lunch boxes, the kids’ tests, the impending bonus and saving up for that new car. Maybe the passion to fight would stay on in a few, but how many would pursue it?
She suddenly felt desperate. She ached to go and catch them all. She wanted to rip their shirts off. She fantasized herself calling them names. She could picture herself gnawing at their faces, torturing them. She smiled to herself. She felt victorious. She couldn’t place a finger on what it was but suddenly her body felt new and she woke up with renewed vigour.
She had to do her bit. How could women like her sit and support the accused? How long could they cover them when someday they themlseves would bear the brunt of it? She would give it her best shot.
She dialled the police station. “Hello. I am Chayanika, wife of Auro- the main accused in the mob molestation. And I know where he is.”
P.S. I know everyone is outraged. Infact I tried hard to refrain from writing. Somehow I wanted to feel it, burn within and hate the miscreants. But I did wonder how it would be if all the women of their families disown them and give them up to the Police? I feel terrible and hurt. I feel scared that this will be just a passing phase. Just the way it should NOT be.