Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rape: An End Which Should End

A short story. Fiction based on the Uma Maheswari rape and murder case in Chennai. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She was breathing; just breathing; and then she decided to stop it.

Born to a bus conductor, no one expected her to be an engineer. Engineering! a degree, and not a profession. This is still a popular course of choice for parents who have nothing else to dream for their kids but want them become an IT coolie at a Multi-National Company.

Meena being the only child was given with all the love and affection of her parents. They grew her up to be an Engineer; to make her father proud and prove his relatives wrong. They grew her up to get a Job; to ensure she gets a better groom than the girls without Jobs. They grew her up to get married; married to the men of their choice. A nice girl from an orthodox family, Meena never questioned herself to chase her dreams. She knew she has to grow up like what her parents expected. This is exactly how all the girls she knows of behave.

Her protective parents made her join an Engineering college in a suburb. Meena’s scores would have let her join a better college away from her town. Being a girl, her parents did not want her to stay away and face life on her own. They feared the distant city; they feared the likely hostel mates; they feared the boys with whom she might have to interact and they decided to keep the butterfly in its pupa. Meena joined an average Engineering college in the neighboring town which was a good one and a half hour journey from home. The college offered exclusive bus service for girls. The college was also strict on boys not interacting with girls. That made it the right choice for many parents like Meena’s.

The boys in the college were banned from interacting with girls. Since they can’t interact, they don’t know them. For the boys, girls are just objects of desire which are kept out of reach. For girls, boys are just objects of desire which are kept out of reach. They never talk to each other. If they had, they would have understood that they both are normal people with dreams; dreams to be something on their own. They were safely kept on either side of the wall by their families and society. Like many girls, Meena too passed out of the college as an object of someone’s desire. She too had someone as her object of desire with whom she talked twice during those four years. However, she did pass out of her parent’s first dream with a good percentile.

Within couple of months, the day finally arrived. The day on which Meena’s family went to all the temples in their town and thanked God for Meena’s hard work. They also announced everyone in the family about their daughter getting a “Software Engineer” job with a MNC in Chennai. Along with it went the message that the girl is now ready for marriage and they are seeking suitable alliance.

It is a matter of mixed feeling for her family. They feared sending her to Chennai. However Meena’s parents knew that today’s hot grooms expect the bride to work in a metro like Chennai. Having spent all their life for Meena they wanted her to get the best groom possible. They knew that they have already conditioned their Girl to lead a life of their choice. Now, they were willing to send the butterfly out of the pupa.

The first two weeks in Chennai was exactly like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for Meena. Meena’s family stayed in their Uncle’s home, who has got settled in Chennai two decades back. Meena could not even get along with the Uncle’s daughter. She did not fit into the City’s modern standards defined for Girls.

By the third week her father have visited all the paying guest accommodation and finalized on a place. Many were rejected as they were close to boys PG. Some were rejected as the girls in the PG appeared too modern and loud. Finally, they landed at a PG run by a person who hails from the same town as theirs. Half of her salary will go for the PG rent. Remaining might be sufficient for her other expenses which includes visiting home every alternate weekend.

Tears filled everyone’s eyes. She has to say goodbye to her parents. Meena, just like any other girl kid grew up in the parent’s safety net. Well immunized against the evils of the society. As time passed, she started getting into the reality of Chennai. At office, she could see many men among the type of boys she know of. She could also see the same type of boys among the men she met. By the end of first year, she has got used to it all. She was able to judge a person not just by how he looks but also by ‘where’. The nuisance uncles in the bus and the sticky and stinky fellow rider in the share auto did not bother her anymore. After all, she knew being a girl is still just an object of desire to many.

Back home, her parents have improved enough in the society to reject grooms whom they felt were not earning enough to uplift the girl’s lifestyle. Someone who has a house, car and property was on the hunt. Grooms living in a foreign land seemed to be an ideal candidate than those many boys whom they see working in their own town. Finally they found the guy who matched their requirement of color, height, weight, salary, family background, properties and social status. Mutual compatibility was left for them to stumble upon post marriage. After all, they are male and female and expected to be compatible. Their marriage date was also fixed.

Back in Chennai, Meena has realized that the popular beauty of working in a MNC is just ugly. The shiny bright glass offices do not have Windows; windows for her to get some fresh air and see the real world. She inhaled what the company provided through the central air conditioner. Like a chained Dog, she was chained with Mobile and e-mail. She was supposed to catch the target balls thrown by her bosses. She has to react the way she is expected to and not the way she wants to.

There are policies which are designed to benefit the company and its shareholders. However if someone can get affected by it, let it be the employee. One example is their cab service. The company wants to accommodate few thousand people together in the same building to reduce cost. This forced them to run the office from a place far away from what can be considered a safe place to live. At the same time, they wanted to recruit some of the best minds like Meena. Hence they offered cab service for employees who leave office at late evenings and night. It again came with its own rules which are more of an operational convenience than employees’.

It was one of those days on which the rules did not work in her favor. She had to leave office at 10.00pm which was not new for her. What was new was their denial to provide an office cab. Her Boss has missed to approve her cab request out of his negligence. She had the option to call her boss which might not be a good idea with so many pending works to complete for the day. The second option for her is to go home on her own. Little did she knew that choosing the second option is going to cost her father’s dream and may be her fiancé’s dreams too. Anyways, she never had a dream to loose.

Night was just as dark as a night should be. The moon was just as bright as a full moon should be. The air was as gentle as the night air should be. Little did she know than men in the street at this time, will not be as good as Humans should be. The one kilometer stretch from office to the nearest bus stop was deserted. She was the only person walking. Meena realized this and reached out to her phone for the much required company. She connected her headset and switched on the radio. A radio jockey was talking…

Hello Chennai.. Before we say Good night and go to sleep, let me ask you something. What if God appears in front of you and asks “What can I offer to make World a better place for you?”
What will you be your wish to God?

Meena was smiling at responses given by the listeners. Some asked for 3BHK apartments, some wanted a Car, some wanted their kids to join IITs and some wanted just cash. Meena too wanted something and she dialed the radio station. Just like many other days, the line was busy.

Amidst the noise of the FM, Meena realized that someone is approaching her from the back. Her heart skipped a beat and her hands removed the headphones. There were three men behind her. She has seen them may times. They are men of no importance to Meena and the other white collared employees in the IT Park. They wear reflective jackets and hang around construction sites in the IT Park. No one bothers about them as they are just migrants from a different state. They are the less than average citizen of the country who live amidst the luxury and greed of the more than average citizen.

For the first time they made themselves important to Meena. Their position made it clear that Meena is in danger. One snatched her handbag and the other snatched her Gold chain. Meena wanted to run, but the third person was holding her tight by her waist. She shouted but it was not audible to anyone other than the three men there.

The three men had originally approached her to rob, but their intention changed as they felt her body. The money that they targeted made less sense as they have lost their senses to the alcohol in their blood. In Tamilnadu, Alcohol is sold by the Government for the people.

As they dragged her to the nearby bush, Meena spent all her energy in shouting and pushing them off. She couldn’t out power these three men who have handled brick and iron all their life. She was weak and helpless. Inside the bush, as the dogs took their turn one after the other, Meena was losing her chance to survive with respect.

After they were done with her, one of them got back his sense. He realized that they will be caught if Meena survives. He hit her hard in her stomach, three times. A distant siren of a police or Ambulance broke the monotony of the events there. The three men buckled up, bundled the loot and ran away from the spot. They dropped two things, the dying Meena and her Phone.

She was breathing. She wanted to survive. She wanted to study English Literature and become a Writer. She wanted to tour around the planet. She wanted to talk to her object of desire from college for the third time and then forever. However, she knew it might be a dream. In reality she would like to live for her Parent’s dreams.

She was breathing. She wanted to survive. She wanted to live a normal life preferred by her Parents. Will her Fiancé agree to marry her anymore? Will anyone marry her ever? Will the Society consider her as a normal Woman anymore? She questioned her options.

She was breathing. She wanted to survive. She wanted to take revenge on the men who caused this to her. She wanted them to be left in the same helpless situation like hers. She wanted them to be punished to something equivalent to a rape. Will that be possible? The men took less than one hour to change her life; will the courts be able to give her justice at this speed? Will the Police and Lawyers treat her with dignity during the enquiry? Will she get proper medical attention for the next few critical hours for survival? Will anyone even know about her for the next few hours? Last of all, will she get relieved from the pain in her body? Pain in her mind?

She looked at her companion, the Phone. She pressed a button and it dialed the FM Radio station. She got connected to the RJ. He asked the same question. What will be your wish to God?” Meena answered “Respect for Women” and then the telephone line got disconnected. She was breathing; just breathing; and then she decided to stop it.

2 comments:

annamalai said...

Good thoughts sri! A needed topic to write a blog on. You have exactly portrayed the real thoughts of human around and I liked your feeling at several places of the story and the way you put it..keep going!

Krishnan N Subramanian said...

Annamalai. Thanks for taking time to make a comment here. I would credit most of these thoughts to our growing up in Madurai and the culture witnessed in Chennai.

I think, my blog is witnessing a comment after couple of years now:-). I got to be more active.