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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 cheque books 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 stale cigarettes she has been saving in case the urge to smoke hits her suddenly.
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”. 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.
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 her child’s fingers lose hers in a crowd; the fear that keeps her at the balcony till she can see her child's familiar figure cross the road as she returns from tuition; the fear of anything, ANYTHING bad happening to her child, which she would happily take upon herself to spare her children....
Recently, along with the rest of the country, I have been reading the papers and following the news with growing horror and concern. Rohith Vemula, Kanhaiya Kumar and all the controversy surrounding it. What is true and what isn't? I too have young teenagers in the house. Soon they too will be going to college. What will it be like? Think of the 11 year old raped, the Murthal gang rapes, all the molestation and eve-teasing, acid attacks ... the 15 year old rape victim who was raped again in the hospital..... the 7 year old child raped and hanged... this is just a tip of the iceberg of all that is so wrong in our world today. I look at it all and want to scream: they are children. And even if they are not small children, spare a thought for them for they are our future. Spare a thought for their mothers, who too are women, much like us. I imagine those poor mothers who sit and worry for their children in distress (or worse), helpless and I can feel their fears biting into me, gnawing at my very core. It makes me angry, makes me want to lash out at the world for we need to keep it safe.
My heart goes out to the parents, 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.
What happened to our humanity? What is it in people to want to start communal divide? Or any kind of unrest? When do we learn our lesson? And what exactly, 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 one rapist had raped a woman 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 their 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?
Or shall we just shut the compartment and pretend it does not exist?