It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and as for me…I’m beaming! Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But I know the sun is lurking somewhere behind those clouds and I’m sure the birds would be chirping if it were not so cold. I mean it is mid-November now! As for my smile, it’s safely in place…okay, so my cheeks are beginning to hurt a bit, but I’m sure that’s natural!

Today is going to be the best day ever, I silently promise myself. My mother or as I like to call her, ‘the woman who forgot to cut the spiritual umbilical cord’ has finally allowed me to go for a real live concert. I can’t believe how mature and responsible I feel already. I feel much taller than my 5’2; in fact, I almost feel 5’5! But maybe that’s because I’m wearing heels – another sign of maturity! I truly am grown up. I’m sure I look a lot older than my 14 years!

I spend the day waiting for the clock to chime 5 o’ clock. Finally, it does. I step out into the world. A woman. In fact, not just any woman. A woman who knows what she wants.

Oops, I forgot to take the tickets! Speed-rushing back inside takes care of that!

Now I’m standing outside the venue with my two best friends who feel equally grown up. But I have to be honest, I think I’m the most mature, I mean just look at how little make- up they’ve used. Kids, I mentally scoff, swinging my hair back. Oops, I accidentally hit a fat uncle wearing about a million gold chains.

We have to wait another half hour before we reach the main gate. There is this crowd pushing against me. It really feels uncomfortable. In fact I’m lucky to have mostly middle-aged aunties surrounding me. I can see how some Romeos are taking advantage of this awkward situation! I silently beg god to let us in. Almost teasingly god listens to me. Suddenly the doors open up and the crowd pours in laughing hysterically. Primitively menacing, it echoes all around. But where the HELL am I?

I am pushed against the hard ground and my body is being crushed by over a 100 people trampling over me. Strangely, it doesn’t register at first and I can just look blankly around attempting to get up. I’m not able to move my body, as people step on me in their hurry to get inside. I can’t see any one I know. I cry out and I hear an unfamiliar voice yelling for help. At first I’m scared, but then I realize it’s me. All I can feel are the hard stones hurting my cheeks as my face is pressed to the ground.

I would like to say that I had some deep revelation in those 10 minutes but all I remember is the sudden aggressive lathi charge by the police just when I got the strength to get on my knees. I was immediately crushed once again; a nine-year-old boy’s head was cracked open in front of me by the ruthless lathi. Now, came the worst part of my ordeal, a woman with immense body mass sat down on my hair trapping me instantly. Unable to breathe, all I remember thinking is ‘my life cannot end this way…I am not supposed to die’.

To cut a long story short, a man finally saw I was being crushed under someone and pulled me out. I still don’t know who he was or what he looked like. Neither did I get a chance to say thank you as he immediately left to save someone else in the mess.

I’ll flit lightly over the part where I finally met my friends and sobbed happily on their shoulders. Most annoyingly, I was the only one injured! I’ll also only mention in passing the highly painful tetanus injection I had to get and the embarrassment that washed over me when I realized my pants’ zip had been open from the back (embarrassment, as I realized it after I had been walking around for a good 15 minutes!)

But what is relevant is not my mothers reaction or for that matter anyone’s reaction to my ordeal. What truly left an impact on my life was the selfless act of helping out someone you don’t know. Also, it made me realize how precious life is and how much we take our present state of security for granted. It showed me that I had a lot of growing up to do and how it didn’t matter what my height was as long as I could walk tall and be proud of myself.

What I learnt was it’s not the clothes you wear or even how you wear them. It’s about valuing what you have, giving what you can and making sure your hearts in the right place (even though your zip may not be!).

Saumia Takru