Molestations recorded in a camera without fear, rapes happening in broad daylight and so many more brutalities unreported. So many voices silenced, but others rise. Who am I, you ask? I am that girl who constantly adjusts her dupatta or clothing to cover “inappropriate” parts of her body to avoid “tempting” you, India. I am also that young girl or boy ushered home before the night gets dark. I am they who walk home after enduring close brushes to the body, men on bikes and cars devour us like vultures. The men swoop down, hands at the ready, doors unlocked, pant zippers bobbing like a buoy.
But you know what, India? I’m tired of being told to stay home after 10 pm when my sisters are touched, molested and raped at 5 pm or even two. I’m tired of wearing salwar kameez everyday because I still feel their gazes burning into me, their lust boiling slowly like hot wax from a fast-melting candle. I can feel their hands brush mine, the bolder ones brazen enough to aim higher.
And aim higher they did, India. They have touched me, shattered my dignity and spat out words that you would not want any of your female kin to hear. I am the forgotten and silenced, under veils or in crumpled FIRs mottled with dust. But I’m not going to allow you to write it anymore. I come from a kind that has put greater men to rest with its flame. Very often tamed, I will no longer stay silent.
I will arm myself with stones that are muddy like the system that should protect us but shuns us instead. I will break through the chains that restrict me from being my own protector, chains that tame me to follow your will. Bad they say. You should not harm anybody or behave like that … so unfeminine, they say. Tired of waiting for you, this is my battle and it’s time to break free, I say.
You cannot touch me, I’m powerful in the waking. I am the firefly whose wings you clipped and shut in dark corners, burning my light with your greedy negative gaze. I found them, thrown, withered but still fluttering. Like the many that wait, itching to fight the battle that society does not want us to wage. A battle that good girls do not indulge in, a fight limited to brothers and other men.
I will fight, as the fire subsides and society takes to social media to call me a victim, helpless and in need of protection. I will finally walk free of the closed doors and chains you bound me with, India, and with slow, baby steps I will rise.