Three weeks ago, my husband dropped a bomb at home in the form of an impending short term on-site opportunity he might have soon. He had to get a short-term VISA as well, which kind of made the chances of him leaving more concrete. Ever since I got the news, I have been highly disturbed. There are obvious reasons like us not wanting to stay apart even for a short while and all. However, something that has been making me go nuts is that I am scared. This might sound absurd to many – “why is she so clingy?”, “why is she so dependent?”. The truth is, as much as I would love not to be, I am scared of living alone, going grocery shopping alone, going to and from work alone. And this is not something marriage has done to me; it is something the world has done to me.
I have never been so before. I was someone who used to stay away from my family from the time I was doing college. I used to travel alone, and at any time, a lot of times in not-so-crowded general compartments of local passenger trains. I remember the first time I went on deputation from Trivandrum to Haldia. I had never been out of my state all by myself. But I was perfectly fine, despite my Dad getting worried about it. I reached Kolkata after 9pm or so, took a random cab to my overnight accommodation, travelled to Haldia all alone the next day early in the morning. Even for my weekly visits to Kolkata city, I used to travel alone, even when I had no clue where I was going.
Now, even thinking of travelling alone gives me the creeps. But isn’t that perfectly justified, given the current scenario? I hate to admit it, but the world is just not a safe place anymore. Our country, as much as I am proud of it, is definitely not paradise, especially for the so-called “fair sex”. And every passing day is just proving to be yet another testimonial to this alarming and disturbing fact. I am not saying men are immune to all problems or that they are perfectly safe. But let’s face it, there definitely are more crimes against women.
I cannot recollect any day when there was no news of an atrocity of some sort or the other against women. Think of the headlines for the past one year – the Delhi gang rape, the abduction and rape of a girl in Hyderabad, abduction and murder of an IT professional in Mumbai. These are just some of the news which made headlines. There are innumerable other cases that make it just as a one-column piece in the dailies.
I can’t even remember how many days it took for me to be normal after the Delhi gang rape case came to light. The brutality that the poor victim had to go through etched itself as moving pictures in my mind. I could not close my eyes as I could see only these pictures. I could not sleep well, I could not focus because all the while I was trying to relate to the girl and imagine what she might have gone through every single minute of that fatal and brutal act. It almost caused me losing my balance of life before I finally caught hold of myself and my mind.
Even before I could forget it, came the news of a 23 or 24 year old girl, taken for a joy ride by a couple of fiends – at 7pm, in one of the most happening places of Hyderabad. Call it a naive decision of a split-second made by a girl to get into a Volvo that was used as a taxi, what followed was certainly not her mistake. The thought that I could have been that girl who got into a shared taxi from a non-shady locality, shook me to the core, considering the fact that shared auto-rickshaws and taxis are a very common means of transportation in this area.
And even before that incident faded into the past, came the news of one of my own trainees from a previous batch, who went missing in Mumbai the moment she got back from home after her Christmas vacation. If everything else was news about some girl, somewhere, this involved someone I had known personally. Even when it was just a three-month acquaintance, the mere fact that she had been a part of my everyday life for three months, made this news even more disturbing than everything else. For days together I kept refreshing Google search every half an hour hoping there would be good news that she is found finally. But three days ago, when her partially burnt and decomposed body was found in a shady suburban area of Mumbai, I lost any sense of security that was left in me.
Forget travelling or even getting out of your home. The sad case of the 14-year old Aarushi Talwar was a shocking revelation to the entire country that safety for women is becoming an impossible dream. When a girl could not be given safety in her own home, how is she safe anywhere?
I realize that thinking of these and going paranoid are not by any means, the way to live my life forward. I also understand that I cannot live my entire life distrusting everyone and everything. But sad as it is, our lives have come down to this.