A woman’s heart is as complicated as her handbag. There are compartments and there are compartments. There are those usual odds and ends which constitute daily living, like that engagement diary or the notebook, the wallet, the chequebooks and the n number of pens, even a few glittery ones she will never use, the sunglasses, those cloth bags she will need in the supermarket to save Rs 2 on the plastic ones. Then there is that old face powder cracking away at the edges along with that barely used lipstick and comb, all left there for “just in case”. And of course there are those safety pins, toothpicks, congealed throat lozenges, dried face wipes, keys, a lighter, a pen knife and that pack containing three cigarettes she has been planning to smoke someday. Then there are the odd bits of paper, a bill from the tailor shop promising delivery of an item she collected six months ago, the credit card receipts she has been meaning to throw away and that ticket stub from the first time she took her toddler on a ride in the metro. A flat round stone her three-year-old gave her for safe-keeping “for always and for effer”. And there’s that old picture of her dad and another frayed one of some God that someone gave her and she does not believe in, yet cannot throw away. And then there’s a special compartment for the smiles she reserves for her children and the one that holds her fears. The fears of a young mother who is afraid to sleep for she thinks she might smother her new born baby, the fear of going too close to the balcony for fear her child might slip from her arms, the fear of letting the child’s fingers lose hers in a crowd, the fears of anything, ANYTHING bad happening to her child, which she would happily take upon herself to spare her children.
Today I sit and imagine that poor mother who sits beside her five year old daughter brutally raped for no reason and I can feel her fears biting into me, gnawing at my very core. Although I do not pray what I am doing now is akin to prayer: hoping the reconstruction surgeries will come out successful, that she will recover, (physically at least) and the scars will fade somehow…..Thankfully none of our clever politicians or erudite fellow countrymen have come up with any enlightened comments on her dress, choice of life style or have said she was asking for it. Not yet.
My heart goes out to the parents who were offered a bribe by the police who wanted them to hush up the case. To the angry young girls who demanded an explanation and were slapped by the cops. To every person who is helpless in their anger and want these crimes to stop. To the little girls mouthing prayers on TV not understanding why their mothers worry about them the way they do. To every person who is outraged and is protesting in whatever way they can: begging that somehow, SOMEHOW these heinous crimes must stop. “Stringent rape laws”, “Capital punishment for rapists,” they are screaming from the streets. Again. Only no one’s listening.
What happened to our humanity? What is wrong with our men? What soulless creatures reside in these rapists who portray themselves to be normal, God-fearing, sometimes even educated persons and integrate themselves into our lives and neighbourhoods and even sometimes break bread with us? I see reports that the rapist had raped his wife and had been ordered by the Panchayat to marry her. What kind of people think that is a solution? Where does the madness start and where does it end?
All my answers have no questions.
All my questions are a shout in the dark.
All I know is that my fears have raised their ugly little heads and are threatening to slither outside its’ compartment. And I am afraid. Afraid for my sons and daughters who are still testing their little wings, who are still learning how to fly. Shall we shoot them down mid-flight or shall we let them soar?
Answer me, dammit!
Or have I said too much?