Tuesday, October 17, 2006


i am a free woman today.

why? because santosh singh was convicted of rape and murder.

how does this have any implication on me? therein lies the story. for years - actually ever since my conscious existence, i remember growing up reading newspaper articles about rapes ranging from nine month old girls to senior citizens. i remember secretly thinking, wow, i am lucky, I am 12 and i have not been raped....i am and I have not been raped...etc. This was not even angst-ridden. quite the opposite - matter of fact is how I describe it. I would look at all the males around me and wonder if they had ever y'know raped someone? (the statistics lead one to indicate that like every other man had likely committed one...at least?). again, this was taken as fact. I actually lived with this reconciled/"fact based" notion for quite a few many years too.

Then, i took my first bus ride in Delhi.

with my mother. and I noticed how my mother was surrounded by two men who kept bumping into her and she did not look like she liked it. (she has her own set of "out-with-it" issues, but that's another story) so, while she silently suffered, i was rapidly getting alarmed at the sight of one of my most precious people in the world being unhappy (to say the least) in this big giant seemingly roomy thing we were traveling in. Surely, those guys had enough room to get about without having to bump into my mother (leave her a-looone!)So, i tugged my mother's saree and asked her why she wouldn't just tell them to go sit on that nice empty seat in the front? the desperate/resigned/sad/fearful-all-at-once look she gave me is something I don't think I will ever forget.

cut to college.

more bus traveling - this time of my own and in much more crowded circumstances. the first time "it" happened, I did what my mother did (and then some more...in that I think i must have been inside the college loo or the one at home for - it felt like - weeks at least. made me wonder if she had done that too.) I couldn’t believe how no one seemed to notice what was happening here. Everyone seemed to be looking in every other direction but at me and the man/men around me. I desperately hoped on and on and on for SOME help/intervention but none came through.

This was just the beginning – of many such “incidents”, of a deep-growing anger, and of a resolve – to a. stop waiting and start dealing with things on my own and b. to NOT look away when (NOT “if”) someone else would go through any similar stuff. And hey, I did. A raised voice (you have NO idea how effective this one is!) A jab of the elbow. And even, a couple of (yes, more than one) slaps. That was a part of the “liberating” process. But the anger remained. And if anything, grew on. And I did not know how to stop it.

I have been a very angry girl for the most part of my grown up life. I have lost out on a lot of friendships/relationships because of this seemingly insurmountable rage within me. And today, I suddenly feel like I can breathe. A weight – ok some of the weight – that I have carried and lugged and dragged on my shoulders has been lifted of me. I don’t have to worry about the entire world anymore. Others are beginning to look “this way” and do something about it. and hey, best of all, it’s working.

Thank you – everrrryone.