A home is a home, no matter what people say. This is how I have always felt about Delhi, the place I have lived all my life. Incidents keep on happening every now and then but I always believed it is one’s attitude towards an issue that matters the most; courage is the most important tool, and no matter how much adverse the situation, presence of mind can help sail through any adverse situation.
The unfortunate chilly night of December 12th, 2012 proved me wrong.
Manju was the daughter of our domestic help. Having migrated to Delhi from Kolkata for a better lifestyle, she stayed in a one room accommodation with her parents and two younger sisters. Just like any 19 year old, she too had dreams of a better life and she worked hard every day to achieve them. She was a perfect housekeeper during the day, helping her mom with cleaning job in various houses in the colony; a doting daughter and sister by the evening as she cooked the evening meal and helped her younger sister with studies; a student by the night when she studied for the correspondence degree she was pursuing.
A beautiful girl with beautiful black eyes, and lot of dreams in them for a better tomorrow. “Didi, once I finish my studies, I won’t let ma work in houses. Then she too will sit and relax in our own house.” She used to say as I used to smile and say “Amen”.
Her parents were looking for a suitable match since she had reached the marriageable age as per their society. Mom and I often tried to convince Manju’s mom to mary her off only once she had completed her studies, to which Manju used to give an ear to ear smile and say “I will mary a company officer” (she meant an executive working for a decent firm)…
But destiny had different plans for her…
Of late, she appeared to be very tensed. She would be lost during the work, giving empty gazes with her lifeless eyes. Upon probing her one day, she told me a group of hooligans in her locality had somehow had their eyes set on her. They had even approached her father promising a better job for Manju. But, understanding their malicious intentions, she had asked them to leave. Since then, they had threatened to even it out with her. They would often follow her and she was scared. I advised her to file a complaint at the local police station, but Manju feared they would harm her family if they came to know about the complaint. I made her promise that no matter what, she would call me whenever in trouble and I would reach with help at any time of the day/night.
I still remember the evening of December 12. It was my niece’s birthday and we had planned a party for her. Manju loved birthday celebrations and so she spent the whole evening helping me with the decorations and food. It was getting dark by the time she was leaving. Call it my gut feel or just plain concern, I asked her to take an auto instead of walking down to her place, as it had become dark and unsafe. I even offered her money for the rickshaw. As she took the money, she smiled and said, I will manage, I am a bold girl. Thinking she would be fine, I got busy with the party.
A week passed and there was no trace of Manju. We were all tensed as her phone had been switched off since that evening.
After a week, her mother came to our house and told us the unfortunate had happened that night. While going home, Manju had been followed by the same hooligans, cornered and raped. She had tried to call through the mobile phone but before she could, the rapists threw away her phone.
The hooligans took their revenge, but Manju’s dreams were shattered forever. Her family sent her back to her village in Kolkata, where she was married off in haste.
I wish I had asked her to stay that evening
I wish I had forced her to file a complaint.
I wish her dreams wouldn’t see such a sorry end
I wish she had smart suraksha, so that even with a press of a button, an emergency message could reach 5 of her contacts and even trace her location.
You can download the Smart Suraksha App here…I am participating in the Seeking Smart Suraksha contest at BlogAdda.com in association with Smart Suraksha App.
* This is a work of fiction.