Viva La Femme

She walks briskly, with short but quick steps. It’s ten already and she wonders why is the road is so deserted. Suddenly, she senses movement behind her. Her steps quickens further and now her heartbeat matches her footsteps them. She stops and turns around abruptly. It’s just a dog. She sighs and continues walking, chiding herself for being so paranoid.

Her paranoia is not unwarranted. She’s a girl and she knows the horrors of walking alone in the streets at that time of the night. If the eve teasers find her at that time, she knew that their antics would rip her apart. Bit by bit, tissue by naked tissue, making her feel like a piece of meat. How many times has she wanted to shout and tell that letch that she is more than just an assortment of a vagina and a pair of breasts? Oh many a times, but she has never blatantly said that. Why create a scene? Why attract attention? What will people say? What do they always tell you when you complain? ‘You must have done something. A girl can never be touched by a man unless she wants him to.’ Perverse logic, but she doesn’t challenge them. She’s afraid.

But she’s seen girls who aren’t. Girls, who’ve slapped, kicked, punched and verbally abused these desperate, lecherous, men. Girls who refuse to be felt up in crowded places and can look the man in the eye and tell him to burn in hell. She wonders if burning in hell is punishment enough and then decides it isn’t. Something worse should be done to them. She doesn’t not exactly know what but something, anything that makes them feel as filthy as she does when someone pinches her butt in a bus or grabs her breast while zooming off on a motorbike. She wonders if her beautiful body is a public property. Come one, come all. What did her mother tell her the other day? Dress modestly, don’t go out alone in the dark, and don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Might as well stop living for the fear of being molested, she had thought.

She read in some newspaper the other day about the rape case of a nine year old girl. Sadly, it wasn’t the first time she’d read about something terrible like this happening to a little girl who doesn’t even understand the atrocity of what happened to her. She has heard and read enough disgusting stories to keep her up at night, shedding copious tears and wondering if she’s safe for even a second in a world which is this brutal and insecure. She wonders about the men who do something like this. How unfortunate their own mothers and sisters and wives are.

She’s tired of being the victim. She wants to fight and stand up for herself. She’s almost certain that she’s alone in this. But what she does not know is that there are hundreds or maybe thousands of women who echo her thoughts verbatim. Because every women has a horror story to tell, of the uncle, the father, the teacher, the stranger on the road doing things to her that made her feel like the dirtiest of dirt. Because marital rape is not just a term, but an experience for some women. Because child abuse is not just a concept but a haunting incident for some women which casts a shadow on their whole life.

Sometimes she silently curses God for making her a woman. She thinks about what it would be like to be a man for a day but guiltily dismisses the idea. She realizes the many, many joys of being a woman. The dresses, the jewelry, the henna, the pretty hair and lovely stilettos, the kajal and lip gloss and the midnight gossips with girl friends. And then she thinks about all the men who’ve been nice to her. The ones who had pampered her, told her that she was beautiful and meant it. The ones who didn’t look at her as a commodity but looked at her with eyes that said that her heartbreaking smile was killing them. That sometimes restores her faith on the fact that there are some nice men who exists. But it takes hardly a stare from the odd stranger on the road to frighten her into distrust and insecurity.

It’s a vicious circle that started the day she was born. Despite the fact that on a cursory glance her life looks nothing out of ordinary, she battles many demons at night. Each night. Just because she doesn’t have a Y-chromosome in her body, just because she’s a girl, just because she lives in a chauvinistic society where girls bear the burden of morality.

Just because the society wants her to be enduring and silent about all the injustices inflicted upon her, she pays the price for being a woman. She shouldn’t. You shouldn’t. We shouldn’t. After all, they’re just men. They would not exist if we don’t go through excruciating pain to bring them into this world. Sadly, once up and about, they turn against us. Traitors!

Kashika Saxena

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