Delhi rape: I live in hope things will change, I die in fear they never may
Dear Delhi, I belong here. Please let me feel safe in my own home.
Speaking strictly from whatever little experience of life I have had, which is close to 25 years, there hasn't been a single moment of being alone and out in the streets and feeling safe. Never, at all.
When I was young, my mother taught me to always be cautious, never be alone, never go too far away from home while playing. And of course her concerns were valid as a mother and I hardly understood what could possibly go wrong.
I remember an incident from my school days. My hostel warden was yelling at the girls' basketball team for stepping out for a bit in our playing kit, which was fairly long shorts and t-shirts. I didn't quite understand what was the big deal after all. What could possibly go wrong, we were 15 of us! Who could harm us, and what was wrong with what we were wearing? It left me puzzled!
There were many instances in which I felt violated, by the way people looked at me, passed comments and thought it was okay to do so. I chose to ignore it too. After all, who wants unwanted attention and conversations.
And then Delhi happened, the city I "belonged" to, the city I called home. I would mostly travel alone, walk and take public transport. That's a normal day to day routine and one shouldn't have apprehensions in following it. Or so, I believed.
Every day! okay, almost every day some or the other incident would make me furious. Mostly on things like someone passing a comment or someone looking at me inappropriately. And when I say I mean most women, in cities, villages, small towns all alike.
I read horrific stories everyday in papers: rapes, honour killing, murders, molestation et al. Many a times had heated arguments with friends and acquaintances as to how all this HAS to change and raised questions like how can we imagine to continue living in a state where a girl doesn't have a right to move about at her will? Why was I being stared at if I was walking back home a little late? For that matter even in the day. Never finding a conclusive answer to any of my questions but always left outraged. But what could I possibly do about it?
A friend of mine once advised and I somewhere unwillingly agreed, "The cardinal rule to follow is to never get into a bus which has less than 15 people in it." Of course, there is no assurance that I was safe in presence of those 15. Another senior said, "If you know it can never be fine, then just don't be out at such wee hours." Reluctantly so, but again I agreed a little.
But as always my questions went unanswered, my voice went unheard. Why can't I be safe in the state I call home? Why does a motorbike or car full of men has to cross me slowing down every day? Who has given the men the right to make women live in fear all the time? Why isn't it okay if I want to leave my house at an hour I wish to? Why am I left feeling outraged and violated?
A few days ago, I remember reading an article which said, "Every woman has experienced that moment where she feels, this is it, it's going to happen now." And it's true. I have and I know at least 50 others who have faced that fearsome moment.
Fortunately for some it was just a moment that passed. But unfortunately for some, their worst fear became a reality and they live with scars all their lives. And some don't even survive it, they succumb to these demons. Demons that have ruined the society, evils that have left us with shrill shivers. Incidents that leave us questioning the existence of some. Pain that goes unheard and unexplained for most.
We all live in this fear consciously or subconsciously. We have become used to reading and hearing about such incidents, but have we lost hope? Do we not want a safer place to live in? Why do we have to live in a society where people are so depraved? Why can't we be a part of a world which is more humane?
I feel sorry, I feel ashamed, I feel helpless! I live in hope that this will change. I die in fear they never may.