It was a moonlit night. Kicking a stone on my way back to the hostel, walking down the dark lane and whistling to myself- much to shake off the perpetual silence that veiled that night. Chill was in the air as it had rained an hour ago or so. There is something so eerie about the darkness. It brings out the dark, dusky, grey and shady areas of our mind that sneak out in silence and haunt us. We have ways to resolve these fears. While some of us would stick to the age-old Hanuman Chalisa, an atheist like me would rather whistle away the silence.
My slow sedate stroll graduated into a brisk walk as the darkness impinged upon the barren lanes. I could hear populations of nocturnal insects singing their anthems, the dogs occasionally would howl and growl at the unexpected and unwanted intruder shattering the silence with their protests raising my adrenaline so much so that my heart pumped that bit extra into the vessels that I was almost running by then. I wasn’t too far from the hostel when I saw a group of men giggling, making glib remarks. I drew closer and soon realised that there was a girl too and these men were following her giggling and joking making remarks that made the girl dig her face and bury her eyes into the ground.
She walked with her arms folded around and head hung low. The moment struck me. I simply couldn’t overlook the fact that something very wrong is about to happen. Something that mankind would wish it never happens again here in Mangalore – more in hope than in belief, more in prayer than in action- the recent incidence of rape at Manipal being fresh in our memory.
I walked up close to the girl and tried to keep pace with her. Yes I was risking it then. I tried to see her face- Damn! She was pretty. I could hear her sob. I could hear the derelicts still following us. I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t afraid. I certainly was. There was no real reason for me to have taken on this charity of being a saviour. But then it could have been anybody-right? Pick a face in the crowd- and its her. How shameful and fearful. Imagine somebody close, somebody you love in the same situation.Too much to overlook.
Gradually the voices faded away and the streets too seemed to be lit and with this the danger too seemed to have been avoided. It was all somber now. I tried to ask about her. Much to start a conversation but to no avail. She said something that I couldn’t understand. Why have human beings brought so many languages into existence. I found another reason to curse the entire human race again. And then she took a turn into a lane and I had to stop. She was home. She smiled at me, waved a goodbye that must have been thankful- presumably. The smile in those wet eyes brought peace to me. I didn’t turn. I walked back, facing her waving a goodbye.
As I walked back so many thoughts crossed my mind. Lets face the fact- a girl who is alone is not safe anywhere. But why? Why do we carry that beast within. In the presence of men, a female feels suffocated. Her mind is not free, she can’t move around, work or even breathe- what are we up to? What exactly are we leaving for the other gender-the fairer sex in this world. Why do we become so ruthless when we see a female alone?
Undoubtedly all of us are guilty. I am not here to ridicule the basic male instinct (of course not the rape). It’s human nature to checkout anybody of the opposite sex. But can’t we just stop there. Why do we let the animal instincts take over the human in us?
I feel no human being is a criminal by nature. It is a deed a rapist, has a whole life to regret for. At times in frustration, at times under the effect of alcohol or a mistake at the spur of the moment. Yes, they do realise it some time or the other. And the guilt stays. But then we end up hating the criminal more than the crime itself. I think all of us have been guilty of it some time or the other. None of us can swear on self and say that they haven’t felt that rush. All of us do. And unluckily, at times the beast within refuses to listen to the heart.
We talk about chemical castration and life sentence.
Hang the guilty and force me to believe that we have dealt with the problem! Sadly that is not the solution.