Ohh… She died?
No, she isn’t. She is alive in millions of hearts, as a guiding spirit, a caution, a lesson, a game-changer. A symbol of never-say-die attitude.
SHE – can be anyone – You, Me, Your Grandmother, My Child, a Colleague, a Girl Nextdoor – Anyone.
It’s a shop of a homeopathy ‘doctor’… Father and his 13-year-old daughter wait patiently for the doctor to call them in. They came there because she is having severe menstrual cramps during her periods, so wants some medication.
The ‘doctor’ asks her to come in. Father explains the condition. Doctor says he has to examine her, and asks father to go out. Father obliges. ‘Doctor’ asks her lay on the bed. Then he presses her breasts and ‘examines’. He repeats it, and the girl feels embarrassed, but afraid to protest.
The girl has never visited doctors so far, and she doesn’t know what he is doing is the part of procedure. She knows that in any other conditions, this is a violation of set rules of decency – and her body is being violated – but she is not sure in this case, as it is a ‘doctor’ who is doing it. He presses her torso as part of examination – but fortunately nothing more.
He asks her to get up, so she knows the ‘examination’ or ‘diagnosis’is finished. But she can’t look him in the eyes – she feels ashamed for some reason. The ‘doctor’ gives her some pills to take everyday and collects his fee from her father.
She doesn’t share what the doctor did, even to her mother. She takes the pills promptly. However her cramps keep coming back to her. She swears never ever to go to a homeopathy doctor again, as she feels their methods are somewhat embarrassing.
Not surprisingly for her, she starts walking with a bent back, trying to conceal the items of her body that caused shame to her soul. None else can guess the reason why this girl walks with a hunched back.
It is the first time she is away from home… After finishing her SSLC, she got admission in a far-off residential college. The first visit to her house after she started her college is full of memories of home. Homesickness has started gripping her. The 16-year-old girl is immeresed in her own world – so much that she doesn’t care who’s sitting next to her in the bus.
After some time, she sees the young gentle man sitting next to her. He’s looking away out of the window. He doesn’t seem to care about her either. She again drifts back to her soliloquies.
At some point, she notes some light movement to her right,where the gentleman is sitting. His right hand is reaching out to her slowly. Her sixth sense gives an alarm. She flinches, and shows that she’s aware of his intentions. He draws away.
She is careful and alert now, ready to slap him if he does something unwanted. He is perfectly cool now and no efforts of trespassing from his side are seen. She thinks he has withdrawn fully.
A busstand nears. He gathers his things to get down. Just as she heaves a sigh of relief, he grabs her breasts, presses them hard. Just for one second. Then he wakes up, and gets down from the bus and vanishes, even as the girl is still sitting there with the shock.
It’s a night she will never forget in her life. Now she is 19-year-old. She is not naive, she knows the way the world works. Still on that night, she is standing alone in a busstand, 5km-away from her hostel, after 9pm. She has taken permission from the warden to go to a DTP center in the 5 km-away town, to finish her project work report. It was 9pm when the work finished. Now she has to go back alone, wih no frequent buses to her area.
It was an era with no cell phones and coin booths operating only when the shops are open. She can’t call anyone for help at that hour.
As she waits for the bus, two men arrive on a bike. They see the girl standing alone in the busstand. They start circling near the bsustand, while the pillion rider starts making signs at her.
She is well-aware of the dangers that await her. But at that moment she is not sure how she can save herself, with no one in the sight. She starts looking around, even as she sees the lights of a vehicle nearing the busstand.
She wants to take a chance now. She gets down from the busstand fast and stands where the people in the vehicle can see her. And holds her hand as if asking for a lift.
It works. The vehicle stops. There is an old couple in the car, both sitting in the front. They ask her where she wants to go. She reveals the location, and they say, yes, it is on the way to their destination, and they would drop her.
Sitting in the backseat in the dark, tears well up and roll from her eyes. She reaches her hostel safely. She can recall the faces of neither the couple nor the bike-riders; she never sees them again too. However it becomes etched in her memory like a dream – and a life-time lesson, to be CAREFUL in whatever she does..
She is working now in a far-off city. This particular day, the 24-year-old girl has night shift. She is waiting at the busstand on the national highway at 10.30pm, for the office cab.
It’s just another ngiht shift day for her; however the report of a rape and murder of a lady who went for morning walk in the surroundings has disturbed the mental peace of the residents in the area.
There are three-four people in the surroundings – vendors in small shops. No travellers. Her colleagues from the same stop are yet to arrive. As she is waiting, a lorry passes her and comes to a halt a few metres away from her. Two men get down, one lights a cigarette. They walk towards her, pass her and a few metres away from, smoking.
She starts feeling uncomfortable. The bus might come any moment. Her colleagues might arrive any time. However tonight time doesn’t seem to pass in the usual speed.
Suddenly she sees someone walking towards her, speedily, from across the road. It only adds to her discomfort. He comes straight towards her and stands beside her. He doesn’t talk, but stands near her, as if he were waiting for a bus, though there are no city bus services at that hour.
The men who stood smoking nearby go again towards the lorry, and the lorry moves away. It is only then that the man opens his mouth. He asks where is she going and why is she alone at this hour. She gets angry and says it’s none of his business. He says she should not be alone in the night as it’s not safe. "Did you notice those men from the lorry who were observing you?" he asks.
He is a vendor in a small pan shop on the other side of the road. He says he felt something unusual in their way, and came near her so they will think she is not alone, and there are other people nearby. He warns her again and again, and waits till her colleagues come to the busstop. He tells them about the incident, and tells them not to leave lady colleagues alone at night, in public places.
She is 33-year-old, married. She is well-aware that her one-year-old kid waits for her to return home. Her work finishes at 9.45pm. Instead of waiting for the office cab at 11.30pm, she decides to go by bus, so that she can reach home early. She is in the safest place of a capital city, with a police commissioner’s office, two media offices, governor’s house and the government assembly buidling wihin 500 metres of circumference. What’s more, she is an employee of a media house.
She waits for the bus at the busstop which is two minutes away from her office. As she surveys her surroundings, she abserves a man who is observing people, and does not seem to be waiting for bus. As their eyes meet, he smiles at her. Her alarm system goes off – she looks away within seconds as if she never saw him.
She can still see him in the corner of her eyes. He drifts away, observing something else and comes behind her. She turns around and changes position. She takes out her mobile and keeps in her hand.
He speaks to another lady in the busstand, who is not keen on talking to him, whose bus arrives and takes her away. The man’s attention again turns towards her. After a few minutes, she sees him in her front, seeing something or someone. In case, let there be something, she thinks, and takes a photo of him in her mobile, in the light of street lights. Good enough, she thinks, and sends her husband a message, saying there is a suspicious-looking man in the busstand who speaks to every lady in the bsustand. Her husband calls her back, and tells her to move back to her office campus, and says he will come there to pick her up. She agrees as there is still no sign of her bus.
Then she crosses the road and walks towards her office. In the corner of her eyes, she can see the man walking towards a bike and starting it. As she has crosses the road and is on the walkway, she hears the bike sound. Another 10 metres and she will be inside her office compound. The bikeman – The Man on the busstand, slows down near her, and asks her if she wants a ride. She doesn’t answer him, and starts running towards her office. The man too matches her speed, but by then, a security guard is visible sitting near the compound of her office. She runs to the safety of the compound, and the man speeds away.
The lessons life has taught her are never forgotten. Still every now and then she finds herself in similar situation, terrified and thinking how to save herself. Woman in India is careful enough – but the evil always comes unwarrantedly. A perverted mindset is the greatest evil that can neither be conquered, nor be killed. the change has to come from within – but how? None knows the answer.