I don’t want to make a claim that I was always this sensitive to the topic of rape as I am today.
I was drinking my morning tea when my husband Mrityunjay asked me in December, 2012.
“Have you heard about this rape that took place on a moving bus in Delhi?”
I had not heard about it as I am not a consumer of print or news media.
More importantly, I neither had any interest in hearing about a rape first thing in the morning. I like to keep myself away from bad news. And then he told me the gruesome details of the rape.
As a woman I don’t think that the brutality and violence of rape is the most important factor of this complex crime. No. The moment someone touches a man or woman against his/her will and consent, that person has already committed a heinous crime. But something about Nirbhaya’s agony seemed as real to me as if it’s an inseparable part of my own psyche.
I remembered an incident when I traveled to Mumbai from Pune in a Volvo and the bus dropped me to Andheri at three in the morning. There were just two passengers in the bus and I was scared beyond words till I didn’t get down. Now, Mumbai being Mumbai, roads are much safer even at three in the morning or at least that is how I perceive Mumbai. So, I heaved a sigh of relief when I got down.
When Mrityunjay told me about Nirbhaya, I thought, I as a woman have put myself in much more dangerous situations than she did. And yet, here I am, drinking tea, whereas she is fighting for her life.
I won’t lie. I felt empathy for Nirbhaya, not sympathy but empathy. She was not out there, she was in here. She was me. She was the women I care about. She could be anyone. She didn’t leave my mind. There is a picture on internet. They call it Nirbhaya’s picture, I don’t know if it’s her real picture or not. But I downloaded that picture and kept it in my laptop.
I never thought to write about socio-political matters. So, I kept toying with the idea what should I do? The problem was- my anger and disgust were just not leaving my system. Like many other people, I followed the Nirbhaya case and when in September, 2013 the verdict was passed:
JUVENILE OFFENDER WILL GET THREE YEARS IN REHAB.
Blood in my veins boiled with rage.
I felt, enough is enough!
That was the genesis of my first fiction #IAm16ICanRape. I knew I have to do something in order to stay sane… and in order to feel less angry.