It’s a common advice for daughters to return home before the sunset. But, problems do not come knocking at your door. And, one such day was a day in the mid of May, when she was walking downtown.
It was a bright day with clear blue sky, people were seen walking up and down the street, cars and two wheeler were passing by at their usual frequencies. There had been something about this Park Street. It had always been untouched by the maddening crowd and looked surreal in its own capacity. Just a few steps down the Shanti Villa, was this magnificent street that leads to the downtown market. Not too far, not too crowded yet had everything available for household like fruits, vegetables and groceries, all at one stop.
Shanti Villa was an abode of four happy members–simple, sober and an absolutely loving family. Mr. Das the head of the family was a Bank Manager, her wife being a teacher was also an excellent mother to two children; a son—Shashank, the elder one and a daughter—Smriti. They belonged to mid-level middle class and by God’s grace had everything a well-settled family would have had. Both the children were brilliant in studies. Shashank wanted to be an Air Force pilot and Smriti wanted to pursue a PhD in Sociology. Das’ were an example for the entire colony. Neighbors did not envy them, but looked up to them.
It was just another day in Shanti Villa. As it was a Sunday, daily chores were delayed than normal hours. Shashank left for his friend’s place to enjoy the India Pakistan Cricket Match, promising to be back by lunch. Mr. Das after reading the newspaper, watching the News, decided to dye his leftover grays on his head and to his mustache, which was a blend of black and gray. Then he seated on his relaxing chair right in front of the TV to follow the cricket match. Mrs. Das was busy in her kitchen cleaning the jars and preparing for lunch in parallel.
Smriti was in her room reading a book, when she heard her mom calling. Gently placing a bookmark at where she had paused, she immediately ran towards the kitchen to listen to her mother. Her mother wanted her to bring a pack of yogurt from downtown market. Smriti took her wallet and left for the market.
It was almost midday around 1.00 PM. The Park Street was silent as it was May and summers were in good form. Since the distance wasn’t much, she decided to walk down. The street had abundant trees on both sides to provide enough shade. It wasn’t too long that she’d left from home; she realized that she was being followed. She started taking longer steps to validate her doubt. Yes, it was certainly someone following her. She turned around and there was a man with plain gestures on his face, more or less expressionless walking towards her. She looked around just to realize that there was none other than both of them till the expanse her eyes could see. Her heartbeats paced up, her hands shivered when she felt her pockets and checked that she had even left her phone behind.
A minute seemed like an hour and a step equivalent to a mile. Her steps became heavier. She did not know what to do. The man who followed did neither misbehave nor gave any such hint that she could complain of. When her whole focus was on the man behind her, suddenly there was a taxi that stopped and there was someone who pulled her in.
What must have happened later, is something that’s most heard of. No, it wasn’t a case of abduction of course; it was the intent of trampling the innocence.
After, waiting for almost an hour, when Smriti did not return home, Shashank was asked to look for her on the way to downtown. The next step was to lodge a complaint in the nearby police station. The same night, a girl was found in vicinity thrown behind the bushes in a terrible inhuman state. It was a shock, a breakdown for Das family. They tore to pieces to find her daughter in such a plight and took her to hospital.
However, Das’ were not the ones to believe in social stigma. They decided to confront the society and supported Smriti in every possible way. Smriti is now a Doctor and living a normal life. However, there’s a question for lifetime that the residents and neighbors of Shanti Villa have had. And, that question is, where are our girls safe? At what time during the day can we allow our daughters and sisters to step out of their home?
This is the current scenario. No girl seems to be safe in a country where you get a daily dose of news on gang rapes and murder first thing in the newspaper. Yes, there was a time when such news were in big, bold font as they were less frequently heard, however, this has become so common nowadays that even the media has started dedicating just a single petty column to these daily dilemma until and unless it’s something as sensitive, as shameful and as unheard of the cases like the Nirbhaya case that occurred in Delhi in 2012. This rape and fatal assault took not just the country capital, but almost the entire nation to tell.
The questions that continue to ring our minds are:
• How safe are we in our own country?
• Is government framing any strict laws to bring fear to such wrongdoers?
• Why the judgment is prolonged in such cases even when the culprits are caught?
I feel stunned to realize that crime rate is booming and we are bound by shackles of helplessness. Despite several NGOs or social platforms or even media propagating the messages across people, we are still handicapped to fight such freaks who disregard womanhood having been born of a woman.
This only reminds me of a quote by Marilyn Monroe:
“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”