Nirbhaya, Damini, Amanat —- the media has given her different names. I despise this patriarchal act of calling her by these names.
I don’t know her name. I need not know. I cry for her without knowing how she looked. She passed away in an alien land after putting up a brave fight for 12 days. ‘I want to live’, that’s what she said after gaining her senses in the Safdarjung hospital where she was admitted after being brutally raped in a bus in Delhi. I just can’t stop thinking about her pain, her trauma and the brutality of the demons who raped her. The grief is overwhelming. For last two days, I feel as if I have lost something very precious, very prized, very intimate.
For years as a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), I spent many mornings and evenings at the same bus stop in Munrika from where she boarded the bus on that fateful night. The landscape is too familiar to me. I can’t stop thinking about what gut-wrenching pain she must have gone through in that moving bus when six men raped her with a brutality that can’t be described in word.
She was a brilliant student. She was a talented painter too. Newspaper reports say her friends were always in awe of her beautiful handwriting. In her neighbourhood, she was everyone’s role model. “Be like her”, that’s what every parent told their children. Her parents had put all their hopes on her. Coming from a humble background, she aspired to rise higher in life. She dreamt of a brighter tomorrow for her, for her parents, for her young brothers. As a physiotherapist, she wanted to heal people.
With her indomitable spirit and a burning desire to excel, she could have done it all with élan. She would have made her family proud by moving up in the ladder. But a patriarchal society called India didn’t think twice before crushing her very existence. She was just 23.
Few weeks from now, the candles flickering in the protest gatherings will slowly die a natural death. Champagne glasses will clink at official banquets raising a toast to our sensex and India emerging as a global power. ‘Always with you”— politicians and police personnel will scream at the slightest opportunity. But for her family, it will be a void that can never be fulfilled. No matter what action the government takes now, she will not come back. Even though she badly wanted to live. India has failed her collectively.
P S: What makes a human being so brutal? How could these six men be so violent in their thought and action? What are we becoming as a society? And the person who did maximum damage to her physical being is a minor. He will turn 18 years in few months from now. There are every chance that he will get away with this heinous crime by just three years of confinement.