It was thirty past one and a pitch-dark night. She had to work late that day.
Usually she travels by a bus to her home. Today there were no buses available. She had to take a cab or an auto. But then, recently she had read somewhere that most of the violent and horrible crimes that happen to women happen late in the night. She decided not to give a chance. She started walking her way home. It was almost 3 km away from her office. But it was better than handing some stranger her destiny.
The roads were abandoned. Only silence filled the streets. She wanted to get home unhurt, unnoticed. She usually takes a shortcut to her home. But that was not her route today. She didn’t want to travel through small and dark areas. She took the longer route hoping nothing goes wrong. She held her nerve and started taking the walk.
Soon, her courage took a hit when she heard a loud scream of boys coming towards her. She didn’t know what to do.
“What if they are drunk? What if they are not in control of themselves?”
“It doesn’t matter even if they are sober, they are men”. She told herself.
She did not want to be seen by them. She did not want to take any risk. She was a strong woman and she was shivering, not from the cold but from the fear of getting hunted. She started looking for somewhere to hide. There was nothing other than the big stinking garbage container on the side of the road. She had no other choice but to quickly hide behind it. The smell was disgusting. But she couldn’t come out of the place until they passed her. She waited until their screams faded and the place became completely quiet. She then, picked herself up and started walking again. She imagined all the bad consequences that could have happened to her, if she was ever caught in the wrong eyes; Her parents would have blamed her for staying out late at night. Few mentally-ill people would justify the crime with the clothes she had worn. Her face would trend all over social media. On television screens, she would have been a hot topic to debate with. And in a society where people weigh girls with virginity, she would be an untouchable. If only she died, she need not have to face these consequences. Therefore, death was her preferred choice.
Her bold eyes broke a tear. She was never a worshipping person. But she prayed that day – to not to be preyed.
She held all her will and continued walking. She didn’t want to be conscious of the frightening environment. She was scared. She thought of calling her parents and speaking to them, to distract herself. But she knew she will rather be shouted at than be comforted with, if she told them the truth. She tried to gather some nerve herself and pursued her path.
She was near her home. Just some few hundred metres to get to safety. At the end of the street she could see her isolated house. Some parts of the street were lit, while the others were not. She used her mobile flash light to walk through the dark areas. She looked around every time she made a step. As she got closer to her home, she saw a man sitting on a bench, in line of her path. She immediately turned off her mobile flash light. He was awake, watching around. He was listening to some old music with a radio transistor he had. She could hear feeble music from the radio box. He wore dark glasses with a scarf around his neck. His wrinkled skin and white hair showed signs of his age. He had rough scars on his face. He looked like the typical guy that would hurt her. She knew if she crossed him without his notice, she could run to her home which was only a few metres away. She slowly took each step, not making any noise. She thought that the only way she could walk past him without him seeing her, would be to walk behind his bench. She knew the risk she was taking, because even if he hears a small noise, she would be in his hand-grabbing reach. She knew it was dangerous. But there were not many options to choose from.
She removed her shoes so that her footsteps don’t make a sound. She slowly moved through thorny plants and thick bushes behind him. She watched him closely as she made each step. But what she didn’t see was a piece of broken glass bottle, which cut her feet. She felt immense pain. Even then, she was concerned with the noise that the glass made rather than the cut it made. Luckily, the music from the radio was loud enough to cover up the sound of the glass breaking. He didn’t notice. But her feet bled with the sharp piece that struck her. She couldn’t even shout out the pain, she was in. Tears came running down her eyes. She bit her hands to avoid screaming. Slowly she moved and crossed the bench. She moved through the grass until she was sure that he wouldn’t hear her footsteps. She was hurt but she felt relieved. She saw her house, at last.
She reached her house and she never felt more secure ever before. She turned to look at the old man who was sitting on the bench. There, she saw something that she never expected.
The old man took a walking stick that he kept under him below the bench. He stood up and started walking with the stick on one hand and the radio on the other. She could see the old man hitting the stick on the road every time he made a step. That is when she realized he was blind.
Would she have walked in front of him if she had known he was blind?
No. She would have never taken a chance. Because she could trust no man ever.
She had to take some pain(s)taking effort just to get to her home, unnoticed.
Does this not put a shameful label on our society?
When are we going to realize that it is not only about the girl being safe but it is also about the girl feeling safe?
It is high-time we did something about this.
We form a society only when fear is instilled in the minds of the corrupt & the criminals and not in the minds of victims. We make a society only when we create a secure social ambience for everyone to live.
Unless a girl can feel safe walking alone in the street at any time in the night, this is no more than a prison.