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In the Memory of the One with No Name

Today, on the 29th day of this cruel December, before the year could slip into another one, she, the one with no name, raped, brutalised and left for dead, on 16th of this month died at two fifteen AM, India Time.

She defied death for long, in the deep agony of emotional and physical trauma which can not even be interpreted, she sought to live. A deafeningly deaf nation will have none if it, as day before yesterday she was shifted to foreign lands, some say for political reasons, to die there. The sad news of her demise thundered into the country, bludgeoning the collective conscience of those who have it.

Some twenty three years back, she would have stretched out those tiny arms to her father, as my daughter did to me. Just as me, her father would have passed on her hand to her, as she would have held his finger in her curled, tiny pink arms. He would have picked her and held her close in the protective embrace and swore to never let as much as an evil wind touch her in life. She would have gone to play in the park and done acrobats on the slide, hurting her knees, to be held close to the breast of a worried father, in a deep embrace of assurance and comfort, with renewed pledge to protect and comfort. Not that such pledge was much needed, Indian woman has now reached to the space, so they shout from political posters. Bad things in the newspapers, well, they happen to other people.

She grows up, studies hard joins in to be a medico. The family basks in the glory of success, and with immense pride and forgotten sacrifices, assures the doubting Thomases in the society, in today's world there is nothing much to worry, as long as one is careful. And she, the one with no name, was always careful. She was raised that way, not coming from a society which gets the best of civic attention, including policing. The police which exists is for guarding and securing against things which makes headline and are of extreme and urgent national significance, not for mango men, who need to fend for themselves.

She understood that onus was on herself like any common man, always watchful of the guys with narrow minds and wide cars who would suddenly, screech stop the cars next to her and honk needlessly. She knew if she kept her head down and walked in silence, they will go away, eventually. She wanted no trouble, complete her study and make some money, pay taxes, raise family and the precariously held social balance between the law breakers and law abiding will continue effortlessly, much to the pleasure of those in power. She had no business to argue with defined social dictum, after all in this country, leaders in full public light are known to make absurd utterances on women with impunity. Largely it goes ignored, rarely when it is reported, they claim being misquoted while the clip runs in parallel on the 24x7 news channels. She might have been shocked to learn about the killing of Jessica Lal, and then doctored ballistic report, then perpetrators finally caught, and sent to Jail, only to be released on Parole on the recommendation of Delhi government, and the elected Delhi government getting away with no comment. She was scared but rationalised that she lived in other side of the social divide, where crime would not usually go unpunished and will not occur as long as she manages to ignore all the faint everyday attacks to her dignity. She knew she was not here to change the world, she dutifully clung to the advise of Delhi CM, when after the murder of A Delhi journalist, she advised women not to be adventurous.

She decided to follow the advise and not being adventurous, took the bus, with her friend to see her off safely. She took a bus, illegally plying on the road of the capital of the country, claiming to be the next big thing in global economy. The six inhabitants of the bus, looked poor, did not seem much of threat, devoid of likely support of the high and mighty. Little did she know, that when crimes of mighty goes unpunished, it renders crime aspirational for the poor. She, with her colleague boarded the bus, was raped in moving bus and then dumped on city road, beaten and battered with injury in head, body and intestine, not to mention spirit.

But a warrior spirit she had in her, surviving through the trauma of multiple recording of the statement, she persisted. She wrote to her mother, "Mother, I want to live." As the impromptu protests rose on the streets of Delhi, eventually joined in by banners of political parties and funny looking caps, things outside turned to worse. A policemen died, police claiming due to violence by protestors, two eye witnesses and doctor who attended to him claiming otherwise; police dutifully countered eye witnesses with eye witness, who emerged four day hence.

Things became murkier, state, anyways laconic, refused to talk to its citizens. They put police to do the talking, which did the way they knew how to do it, clamping protest with a curfew in Delhi central district, an advisory to the media, shutting down the Metro stations near the protest sites. The home minister, emerged after a while to state there was no need for special parliament session, after all it was no FDI, and no Nuclear Deal. Further, he added, if hundred tribal people died in naxal prone areas, do you expect the home minister to go there? That was amazing, and I almost wanted to ask, if hundred is not a good number, what would be a threshold number to nudge the rulers out of their slumber.

While the One with No Name struggled bravely against a comical system, fighting with one another trying to take statement, a deteriorating health, gangrene in the intestine, another teenage girl away from television cameras committed suicide, ridiculed by police in Punjab, the state which had recently seen a police officer, killed in cold blood by political leader, trying to protect the modesty of his daughter. The debates in the television hit the nadir with a politician, in the middle of all this anger suggesting that because india won freedom at night, doesn't mean women should roam around at night, another one claiming this outrage is a non-serious movement of dented and painted women, another claiming a rape case in Kolkata was a'professional' dispute between the woman and her 'client'. The silent PM appeared on television after seven days to address the nation and expressed his anguish, and also explained why street protests are not an answer. He ended the speech, with Theek hai (is it ok), as if telling the nation, well, you wanted me to come and talk to you, now you have been spoken to, is it ok now, can we now proceed with business as usual.

The cold day began with the smell of death. The One with No Name, could bear no more. It was a painful thing to know of, this is the saddest new year in all the forty years that I have lived. Even the little kiss of my five year old is not enough to assuage the hurt and disappointment rendered by an inept, inefficient and insensitive system. Yesterday, someone said a wise thing on television, that leaders can not hide behind the fact that general degeneration of social morality is reflecting in poor leadership, leaders, by definition are supposed to be better than masses. Those who are not, by implication, have no business to be considered as leaders, no matter, number of television sets, or kilograms of rice they offer to the electorate.

The big, existential question is now to us, are we going to forget this death as a blip on the statistical data? Are we going to live in feigned tranquility with invented gods in cricket players, pretending everything is fine and bad things happen to 'other people?' The evil which we allow to propagate is eventually going to touch us, sooner or later. We have to be beyond the arithmetic and equations, we are living people with living concerns. Let this be notified to those who govern us, nothing is theek hai? Nothing is ok. The politicians with history behind them to answer for, go on living comfortably and the Twenty Three year old with future in front of her is no more. The tiny fingers which curled around the father's palm, lie open, cold and lifeless, before they could have held the wrinkled hand of old father to comfort him. She was an ordinary kid, full of youth, one of us, no one debated over whether she might or might not become prime minister someday. My guess is she never wanted to be a prime minister some day in her life, but in her death, may be, just may be, she will become a potent force of change, which will define how we run the country in future. I am angry, I am ashamed and so angst ridden, that I want to weep, but am held back by something. I, the citizen of a country which could not offer a life of dignity to her daughter, hold my head down in shame and despair. A defeated people, we mourn in silence, as failed nation, doomed to bear being governed by insensitive, half-wits.

PS. For inputs to Justice JS Verma @ justice.verma@nic.in for inputs on judicial reforms to address crime against women.


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