No Country For Women

We all know how horrible Delhi is and every time we read one of these reports we thank our stars that we escaped relatively unscathed. By relatively, I mean we were lucky enough not to be raped. We have, however, been leered at, felt over, hooted at, made unwanted advances to and felt unsafe and scared every time we've stepped out of our homes. No girl who has ever lived in Delhi can say she has not faced any instance of eve-teasing, groping, mauling or sexual harassment - whether it be walking on the road in the middle of the day, travelling on a packed-to-the-roof bus, riding the famed Delhi metro, eating at a restaurant or shopping in a swanky mall. No time of day, no place, no mode of transportation and no amount of company can provide assurance of safety in Delhi/NCR. This is the reality. 

We are not stupid. We are scared. We take all the precautions we can. We don't wear "revealing" clothes when we walk on Delhi's roads. We don't talk to, much less argue with, strangers - male or female. We think a hundred times before we step out after dark, even to the shop two minutes from our homes. But what do we do when we are liable to be attacked in the middle of the day, in the bylane of a busy road, gagged and bound with our own dupattas? What do we do when a mob of men descends on us on one of the busiest intersections in the city, with a hundred cars just driving by and a police picket not 100 metres away? What do we do when travelling with a friend on a public transport results in a brutal assault that leaves us broken and naked in both body and spirit? 

And yet, all we have heard from the police and the govt are "tips" and "advice" for us girls, the victims, to protect ourselves and prevent such heinous incidents from happening. Not the perpetrators, but the victims are being cautioned. We are being told what to wear, where to go, when to work and how to live our life. No one stops gangs of drunken boys from roaming the streets all day looking for prey. No one steps forward when a man is harassing a woman in full view of passersby. No one tells their son or brother or husband to behave in a way that doesn't bring shame on themselves and their families. For apparently there is more shame in being raped than in raping.

This right here is the Small Indian Mentality camouflaged as the Great Indian Culture and Heritage, the way we as a society and a country think and operate. Where male dominance and chauvinism are nurtured and encouraged, while a woman's right to live freely has a question mark on it. Where a raped girl is likely to be blamed for being raped and the rapist is likely to walk free and blameless. I am surprised our great leaders haven't come out with a statement asking why the girl was out so late with a male friend, as they have done on previous occasions. Maybe because elections are round the corner and they need every vote they can get, even the one from a raped girl lying with her head cracked open and her soul torn asunder.

He says, She says - From where I'm standing...

"All I ever did was love you
Even the times when you were on the phone
Laughing with someone else
And then when the call was done
You threw the receiver on my face
Adding to the bruises from the night before.

All I ever thought of was you
Even when you came home way past midnight
Smelling like someone else, smelling of someone else
And the bed was just for sleeping, not love
And the mornings were lonelier than the rest of the day
It wasn't always this bad, I would say.

All I ever changed was for you
Buying those pretty clothes and getting my hair done
And waiting for you all dressed up in the evenings
The flowers on the kitchen table cut fresh from the garden
The house smelling of spices and wine
And then you walked straight to the bedroom and shut the door.

I never shouted back at you
Even when you doubted my friends
And hurt me more with your words and ways
When you went through my dresser
Like I was stealing from you
When all that is mine is already yours.

I can't see the love anymore
In anything you say or do
I've been waiting for a long time
And I've picked up the courage to say it to you
I'm leaving, I'm going, I'm choosing myself
Over you, though you may not even care if I do."


" Honey, now please be patient and let me have my say
Hear me out so you know why things are this way.

First of all, it's true I laugh over the phone
I have a sense of humour, surely you know
And on that particular day, I was buttering the cookie moulds
And the receiver slipped and sprung out at you
Hitting you where you'd already been punched
From your brawl in the bar the night before.

As a nurse I have my crazy shifts
And I was working overtime that week
I smelled different because I smelled of antiseptic and vomit and poop
You were already half-asleep by the time I came home
And I was gone again by the time you woke up past noon
Between your late mornings and my late nights, we kept missing each other.

Now, sweetheart, don't take this the wrong way
But you spent my savings on your clothes and hair
Sure the cut flowers were a nice touch
But the smell of cinnamon and cheap apple cider
After a day of cleaning out toilet pans in the geriatric ward
Made me want to throw up so I ran to the bathroom from the front door

Now about your 'friends', I have to say
Bryan the gardener, Toby the plumber and Jack the construction guy
You literally called them off the street into our home
And they messed up my clean carpet after I'd put in a whole Sunday's work
I was searching for my underwear when I saw a bit of lace
Peeping from your dresser, so I opened it and found a lot more.

It's true that you can't see my love anymore
It's because there are some facts that we need to face
You call random men home for beer and snacks
You keep racy underwear hidden in your dresser
You spend more on your hair than I do on my clothes
All in all, husband dear, you're an unemployed wastrel, either gay or having an affair."


This was merely a play on people's expectations on gender-based role typification. On reading the first part, one automatically assumes it is a ranting wife who's throwing tantrums at her bread-winning husband, whereas the second part dispels that notion and turns it on its head.

While not a part of my usually enraged writings on gender-inequality, this nonetheless speaks about the stereotypes that one assigns automatically to women.

Reposted for Open-Link Monday on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

The Colour of Love : Indigo

From where I sat, the water seemed to be flowing pretty fast. Dark, undulating ripples, blue-black depths. The bruises on my back, shoulders and shins were pretty much the same colour. A solitary tear made its way down my cheek and into my hair. It was not the pain, as much as the self-loathing, that drew bile in my mouth. In an instant, my body was wracked with spasms and I retched. I retched till nothing came out but dry gasps and painful panting. I lay back on the rock I was sitting on. It was bare, polished by the relentless winds and waters that beat upon it for millennia. Nothing could grow on the dark, flat cliff. It gave me much comfort, the smooth coolness of it. I closed my eyes for a second and then jerked them wide open. A vision flashed before me every time I entered the darkness of my mind. Blurred faces, violent thrusts, screaming voices, the sharp tang of blood and fluids. Involuntarily, I scratched myself, drawing blood from my arms. The pain obliterated the sights, sounds and smells for a while. And then, again, I felt it. Rough, calloused fingers probing me, spiked shoe soles holding my feet down, wetness in my mouth, on my face, all over my body. My hips throbbed in the memory of the brutal invasion, and the blood running in shining rivulets down my thighs could have been imagined, had it not been accompanied by the salty smell of rust. I sat up and retched again, this time spitting blood from my parched and burning throat. I couldn't hold it in any longer. I screamed and screamed till my voice gave out. My tears, my pain, my humiliation, my anger fuelled me on. I stood on the precipice looking down at the river flowing beneath. I extended my foot into the void. Moments later, flesh met water. The desecration of my body and soul dissolved in the dark blue depths.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The inky sky was dotted with stars as I turned away from the edge of the cliff. For the first time since I bludgeoned him to death, I surveyed the scene of my devastation. The blood-soaked rock with which I bashed his head in gleamed blackly in the moonlight. A trail of the same blackness led from there to the edge. My toes still tingled from the sponginess of flesh when I kicked his body off it. He had been heavy, but my strength came from what he had robbed me of - my dignity. To think that I was naive enough to believe that he loved me the way I loved him. Moonlight robbed the plateau of colour, except the bruises on my body and soul.

"A lovers' stroll" he'd said, no love did he show
A sweet kiss turned sour, a caress became a blow
My dream was a nightmare, and little did I know
My innocence was foolish, my beauty was a whore
He wanted my body for the night, no more
I trusted the unfaithful, and rewarded I was so
The sky and the water, my body and my soul
Were the colour of my battered love, they were indigo





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