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Debauched Delhi

I woke up to a gut-wrenching story of a young girl being gang-raped in a bus in Delhi. I cried for that innocent girl who’s fighting a gruesome battle for life. I sincerely hope and pray she regains her mental and physical health though life will never be the same for her.
I lived in Delhi for nine years. A part of me loved being in Delhi. It’s a city which gave me my  most intense adult love, junoon (passion), intellectual stimulation and a perspective. A part of me occasionally craves to go back to the city. At the same time a part of me just doesn’t want to. Why so, you might wonder?
In Delhi, I have had horrible experiences with men who couldn’t think beyond sheer lust. I was  molested badly on the streets of India’s capital city in broad daylight and in early evenings. I remember one particular August evening (7.30PM) when I was molested badly on my way back home after making a STD phone-call (from a booth) to the guy whom I later married. I was so traumatized after that incident which happened in front of my house that for almost three weeks, I stayed at a friend’s house. I just couldn’t bring myself to return to my own house after work. And to think of it, I worked hard to pay my rents. I lost my most prized intimate space in a city that boasts of tree-lined avenues, posh restaurants and the tag of ‘India’s power capital.’
As a student of JNU (India’s premier university), I lived in the bougenvellia laced campus which was an island in debauched Delhi and hence a paradise for women. We were like birds in the campus, free to fly at will. Flapping our wings in the darkness of night without any fear came naturally to us. But the moment we stepped out of our beautiful campus, the ‘dirty’ men of Dilli followed us with gusto. ‘How much do you want?’— was a question I faced frequently while walking on the streets. A question asked by middle-aged pot-bellied greasy men wanting their share of flesh. The ‘mean’ streets of Delhi didn’t care whether you studied in India’s premier institutes or whether you had an impeccable academic career or you were a career woman charting your own path in a city that lusts for a bite of a chicken leg or a woman’s breast. In the same breath. All that matters is you are a woman. And any man roaming on the street has a right to enjoy a slice of your flesh.
You can’t keep your doors open because you don’t feel safe in your own house. Everytime you wait for a bus, your heart pounds (well, not everybody can afford a chauffeur driven car or even an auto). What kind of a capital city are we talking about? What kind of brutality is this? If our daughters, sisters and nieces can’t watch a movie and reach home safely at 9 pm, then what’s point of a rising Sensex? What’s all this talk about India becoming a global power?
My blood boils now when I hear women talking like a holy cow, “Oh, you know, that’s why I never travel by bus in Delhi. Or that’s why I always opted for living (before marriage) with my aunt rather than living on my own.” (Surprisingly, I have noticed most of these women are mothers of young sons not daughters.)
My fundamental question: Is it a crime to take a public transport? Or is it a crime to live on your own in a rented apartment? Is it a crime to long for independence? Is it a crime to watch ‘Life of Pi’ with a friend and wait for a bus to go home?
No, I don’t want to move out of my house with trepidation. I neither want to carry a pepperspray in my handbag. Nor I want to spend my hard-earned money on a swiss knife. Is it too much to ask for?


About Deepika Sahu

I earn my living through writing stories, editing what other people write (in simple terms I am a journalist). I dream of opening a cafeteria in the mountains, owning a beach home on the shores of Bay of Bengal... but right now, they all seem like wild dreams.. A gypsy at heart --- am passionate about life, music, words, cooking for people I love, soaking in the lashing rain and just looking at the changing colours of the sky.... And I am a great fan of the Indian Railways and I long to travel in First Class AC coupe across India.....with my man

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