Living With My Paranoia


Damini’s Case Was My Tryst With Reality and Changed My Worldview Forever

Three years ago when I came to the city with ignominious reputation of being the rape capital, it didn’t bother me much.  My parents, friends and well wishers would be constantly worried about me and my whereabouts, not that they doubted me, but because they had no faith in this big bad world. On the other hand I felt like a free bird, eager to soar high in this newly found freedom. I did not know what it meant to be scared, to live under that constant fear of something beyond my control. I had faith in the inherent goodness of the human race and firmly believed that nothing bad ever happens to good people.

Without a care in the world and nothing to put down my spirits, my footsteps would trace the entire city, be it day or night. I never felt the need to travel in the exclusive all ladies compartment and neither did hiring an auto at eight in the night give me jitters. And by the grace of God I never encountered an untoward incident which would make me think otherwise. I had every reason to believe that Delhi is the best place to live in India.

Ohhh….how naïve I was to have such a glossy worldview.

How I wish that would not have changed.

How I wish that on the fateful night of December 16, 2012 Damini had not boarded that private bus with tinted glasses.

Damini’ s rape case changed many lives. And these aren’t only of her near and dear ones, or that of the six rapists who are rotting in the jail awaiting their impending death; but that of girls like me.

Earlier the cases of rapes and molestations, served along with the morning tea, involved girls who were nameless and faceless. They stirred my emotions and had my sympathy but somehow they always felt too distant and unreal. But ever since the Damini case I realized that these incidents are real and aren’t too distant either. They are always there, in close vicinity, waiting to happen, lurking around in a dark corner, on a deserted street, in the overcrowded general compartment of the Delhi metro and in an auto ride gone ugly.

I feel a constant fear, a paranoia, seeping inside me, creeping in slowly, gnawing on my confidence, eating away my optimism and gradually making its way into my being, my personality. It is so overpowering, so overwhelming that it has taken away my sense of freedom and my peace of mind. I find myself wary of hiring an auto when it gets dark and if at all I do, I make sure that I note down the auto’s number and the autowalla’s name and call a family member to inform them about these details. So that the autowala guy knows that if he tries to act smart it can land him into some serious trouble. Even after being so cautious I find myself sitting on the edge, clutching onto the pepper spray in my bag, looking outside to make sure that he isn’t making a detour and taking me through some dimly lit and sparsely crowded area. My heart beats return to normal only when I have been safely dropped off at my destination.

It has been a year since the incident but such nerve wrecking auto rides have become a way of my life, and consequently, I have become more vigilant and better prepared now.

But, how I wish there wasn’t a need to.

How I wish this world was my utopia.

Ritika Rastogi

How many of you are scared to live in the city Delhi? Write your opinions in the comment box below.

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