This is related to my previous post, although it does not strictly follow the other. These two together capture the tumultuous emotions that swirled within me after listening to conversations surrounding a molestation allegation. Why not earlier? Why anonymous? Why not a formal complaint? Perhaps this is why. She replies.Continue reading “She Replies”
TR and I were having an informal chat about the brouhaha surrounding the societal-induced need for generation of posterity when he mentioned that his longterm girlfriend and he had unanimously decided not to have children. Reasons ranged from cost-cutting and preservation of sanity to in-depth research on how 90% of childless elderly stand by their decision to let resting wombs be.
Adoption was still on the cards though, if ever they felt the need.
“But only girls, mind you”, said he, “there is no way I’d want a boy.”
I was surprised. Daddy’s little girl and all that aside, has our nation really turned its back on the overwhelming need for a male child?
“Don’t you read the newspapers?”, he continued. “There is a rape happening every day. There is no way I’d want to father a potential rapist!!”
I laughed and laughed, caught off-guard by his deranged line of thought. This has got to be a first, when someone decided the preferred gender of their offspring based on crime rates in the community.
Or was it?
I realised what was deranged about him was not so much the line of thought as how it culminated. In a society that feared having its daughters raped, he feared raising his son wrong.
Isn’t this the very paradigm shift that we need today? As I read somewhere once, why not let the girls roam free after midnight and lock in all the boys instead? Why not spare the women lectures on modesty and safety, and teach men how to behave instead? Why not stop fearing for your daughter’s morals and save your son’s instead?
Is that really too much to ask for?
Disclaimer : The following post is a tad different from the normal contents of this blog. These words represent my own personal sentiments and thoughts, and are not in any way meant to invoke anger, indignity or resentment.
When I say rape is a reality, I mean that it is not something that should shock us. It is not an isolated incident that ought to catch our attention from time and time, when the act has enough associated brutality to command media attention. It is not an enigma. It is not a strange occurance. And it is definitely not a sign of patriarchy.
It is just like murder. Just like robbery. Just like bullying. Just like any other instance where humans repudiate the rights of another, and refuse to respect the worth of their lives, their space, their belongings, their existence, irrespective of race or religion or gender.
And just like murderers and robbers and bullies, rapists are everywhere. Sadists are everywhere. It might be a stranger, a friend, a lover, a relative or a coworker. It can happen at home, at school, at college, at office or on vacation. Stop pretending. Halt the flow of those million candles that weep for a forsaken girl only to die out into oblivion, like she did. It was just another news headline. Let it be what it is. Stop the hypocritical battle cries that call for the death of one, when a thousand others disappear unheeded. The molestation of a fifty year old deserves as much wrath as that of a ten year old. But then, that story isn’t half as spicy, and lie hidden in the folds of her skirts untold, for she would rather it didn’t end up in a crumpled newspaper that caught no attention anyway.
So I tell you, treat it as what it is. A crime, yes, but not one to make a hue and cry about. Not a tale to be sung in blood-red tones of fury, till a better one comes along.
So I demand, treat it as it is. A routine affair. Not a shadow lurking in the alleyways of our utopia, but one that shines so bright it blinds us with the sheer brilliance of mockery and human pathos. A reality as palpable as my sweaty palms when I turn a shady street corner, and tangible as my feet that hurry on its own accord, as my heart, once home is far. A truth as real as the catch of my breath when a group of men shoot a glance along my lonely way. I hold my purse tight and myself tighter, for deny as I may, I know it awaits somewhere in the near unknown.
So I beg you, treat it as what it is: unexceptional news. Rape is average, commonplace and ordinary. Stop inflating its importance to monstrous proportions so that she has to cower under attention forever rather than being allowed to rewind her life to back to normalcy. Stop feeding her chunks of debauchery draped in hedonistic sympathy and let her be, instead.
I am here to tell you rape is a reality. It is not an event reserved for that random stranger who happened to be at an unfortunate place at an unfortunate time. Anyone can get kidnapped or robbed or killed. And anyone can get raped.
It may happen to you. And if it does, know that you are not alone. You are not a victim. You are not scarred for life. You are not flawed. You are one of a zillion who refuse to bow down to what life hands you. More importantly, you’re in every way stronger than the men who overpowered you. They were just a bunch of bullies, retards, who have no control over their own thoughts and actions. Show the world and yourself that you are so much more.
It may happen to me. And if it does, please just let me too keep my head held high still and march on.
Yesterday was one of those days. My mind was a web of cluttered thoughts as messy as my room, and although the right thing to do was to get to work at cleaning both up, I found myself reaching for my keys. A lonely ride around town at night seemed like a great idea. I did not know where to, but then, the beach and the streets of White Town are all that Pondicherry really has to offer at night. So I rode slowly in that direction, gathering my thoughts.
I had never been to the beach alone before, and it felt rather strange. More disconcerting than soothing. Among all those people around me, armed with friends, lovers or families, I felt I must make a sorry picture, alone at the beach close to midnight, with not even a bottle or a puff to keep me company. I perched on a rock and began to stare at the sea, seeking tranquility. The waves crashed much like my ruminations – anticlimactic, recurring brilliant pieces of frothy white light that dissipated just on the verge of formation.
Suddenly I heard a call behind me. Two young men stood precariously close, and I started, as any average Indian woman would.
“Don’t be afraid”, one said. “It’s our friend’s birthday.. he’s rather shy.. so, here you go”.
One of them extended a piece of Black-forest cake (incidentally, my favourite) as the other stood by, sheepishly. I was not quite sure of what to do. If this were to happen in the Western world, and if I am to believe what I’ve seen on television, the ideal response would be a beaming smile and to extend a hand, or a hug perhaps, wishing the ‘birthday person’ warm greetings from your part. As a cautious female, I did nothing of the sort. After choosing to pinch off the tiniest fraction of the cake I could manage (lest it be poisoned with the date rape drug) and muttering a hurried thank you, I went back to staring at the sea with even more determination. Sure, I was currently in apparently one of the safest cities in for women, and was surrounded by more than a hundred people, but one doesn’t want to take chances. To quote a poem I recently came across on YouTube, “we don’t want to be another of India’s daughters, do we??”
So I sat there with my back to the world till it occurred to me that perhaps I had been rude. They had not really seemed like trouble. I decided to walk up to them and say a proper birthday wish. As I stood up and turned around, I realized they were gone.
I remembered his first words. Don’t be afraid.. And then it hit me. Perhaps, like any average Indian, my response was exactly what he expected anyway.