To Delhi Braveheart, with love..
Candles were lit and burnt out.
And so were the protests,
Silenced and shut out.
O Girl in the heaven, I am sorry.
I am sorry that we (you and I) lived and died together... in this dark age.
One month ago, when the Delhi warrior girl lost her battle with life, she didn’t die alone. Something deep down died within all of us. And we walk with that corpse within, pretending to be all right and completely alive.
My dear warrior, your eternity has just turned one month old and so have our partial deaths.
The sadness and anger though subdued, linger on as we go on with our busy lives. It has taken me one entire month to gather myself up from the pieces left after the news mill pulverized me every day.
The news of how ghastly, inhumane the night of December 16 was; the news of how a heartless crowd turned its face away or stared cruelly at two helpless blood-smeared bare bodies lying by the roadside; the news of how the cops cowered and bickered to avoid your case. And then the gut-wrenching news of how few gutless beasts eviscerated you but couldn’t kill the mysterious strength within that percolated to each stratum of a dormant society, melting the frozen apathy into torrential downpours of angry protests, not only in Delhi or India, but across the world.
And finally came the heart-numbing news - when you left this brutal world for a better place, when you couldn’t outlive the trauma anymore.
It felt like an intolerable defeat in the war that every protester was fighting out there on the streets of India. The simmering noisy outrage gave way to a cold silent gloom.
Delhi winters are always biting, but it was the coldest and bitter most December felt ever.
But the flames from your funeral pyre did well to set on fire the frozen sentiments and even the complacent government officials ensconced in the safe power-cushioned chairs, did feel the heat. Big names from the Bollywood and politics came forward to pay tribute to you.
It was with much effort that Sonia Gandhi herself appeared on television with moistened eyes and a voice cracking with chagrin, to say how aggrieved was she. Let alone Sonia, even our dear, mostly quiet PM broke his silence for you, though it took him a week to do so.
From UN chief Ban Ki-moon to IMF chief Christine Lagarde, whose names you must have by-hearted only to boost your GK, also came forward to speak up for you.
Amitabh Bachchan, Big B, the one for whom you would have prayed hard to God, to sit on the hot seat in KBC, himself wrote a poem for you.
And would you believe it, even SRK, the King Khan of whom you might have been a die-hard fan like any Indian girl, and you must have hummed `Kal ho na ho` sometimes amidst your friends; the star himself tweeted for you.
But the worst part is, it took an unfathomably heinous crime to make them do so.
The sad part is they were all hurt and sorry for you and their nation India, like Shah Rukh tweeted, “We couldn`t save u but wot a big voice u have, u brave little girl.. I am so sorry that I am a part of this society and culture. I am so sorry that I am a man”.
Things could have been different. You could have been a great physiotherapist, so efficient and famous that you could be giving some kinesiology lessons to SRK and he could have mentioned you with a smile and praises galore. Or who knows, you could have been a great scientist and won laurels someday. And then, you would have found a mention worldwide for better reasons.
But sadly, you were born in a country where on one hand Kali and Durga are worshipped and revered as Goddesses. But on the other hand, in many places female foetuses are found abandoned, and if they manage to get born, then lies ahead a journey of lifetime replete with unexpected accidents and incidents.
A girl grows up in India, listening to constant advises on dos and don’ts. She is taught to ‘behave’. She is made aware of the difference why her brother can go to fetch groceries after evening descends and she cannot. She is made to feel like a burden in a temporary inn, who would one day be sent to her husband’s shelter.
Fortunately or unfortunately, may be your family didn’t feel so. You were free. Free to read and study and live and make your life. And perhaps, so your family had to bear the brunt of losing you, and in such an inexplicably sad way.
But your loss hasn’t been in vain. You would never know how you have made millions come together for you - millions who saw in you their own sister, or daughter, shouted and shrieked and cried and grieved.
The common feeling was “It could have been me, or my sister or daughter” and the common anger intensified and got things moving in the right direction. Justice Verma Committee was formed.
Hitting out at patriarchy itself as the foundation on which such crimes breed, the committee came up with a ground-breaking set of recommendations, which if implemented could abate such misdeeds.
Fast-track courts lined up. Rape cases which used to be pushed to an unnoticeable nook in the newspapers, started making headlines. It’s not like such a crime had never ever taken place in India. But you had some mysterious element in you, something that managed to touch and impact every soul and you could connect to us all in a very powerful way.
You wanted your mom not to tell your friends about what happened to you, still hoping to spring back to life and see your culprits burnt alive. But it’s sad that you would never know how not just your friends but the entire world grew aware of you and how your name, that means light, illumined an entire swathe of population dwelling in a deliberate darkness of apathy.
There are many things I wouldn’t like to let you know; e.g., how even after your tragic death, some politicians went on to say meaningless statements about rape, and how a key culprit whom you wanted to see burnt alive, has just been declared a juvenile and could walk free in June itself.
But besides all this, you have lit many a candles, which would go on to wipe out the darkness, even of mindsets I hope.
The best part about you my dear is, you make everyone want to be a good person.
I have never seen your face and have no idea what you looked like, but I see you in every pretty girl. I see you in every young girl waiting at the bus stand, with books in her hand and dreams in her eyes.
I see you when I see the mirror.
I have nothing else to write to you, for words would never be enough to make you feel the depth of emotions you invoked.
The trauma and rage, the agony and distress, the prayers and blessings are all unspeakable.
So, O dear lil girl in the heaven, just rest in peace.