It was another one of her usual visits to the main well of the village. Whenever there was too much work to be done, her mother would send her down the hill to get water for the house. So with the feel of a day as ordinary as any other, she walked down the kaccha road, with one hand holding the matka and the other her veil hiding her face. Little did she realise that the happenings of this seemingly regular day were to her changer her definition of ordinary, to say the least.
Just as she was about two kilometres away from the well, she saw a group of men walking in her direction. Following customary norms of the village, she pulled her cover down till her chin, slyly stealing a glance to conclude that they were the sons of all panchayat members of the village. As unnecessary as it was, she deviated from her path and ran the curve taking the longer route to the destination. It is best to stay away from the most powerful lot of the vicinity, and the best of best acknowledged this fact. The coincidence that this group also had to deviate to the curve struck her as peculiar, but she walked anyway. It was only when she felt the tap on her back that the peculiarity turned to fear and her heart skipped a beat as she turned around. As she stared right at the ground below her feet, one of the boys pulled her matka from her hand. Without a word, she let it go, knowing better than to resist in such a situation. As the sun bore down on them her bare feet felt the heat emitting from the ground and she clenched her teeth waiting for an instruction, a warning or just an indication that she could leave. But with the murmurs circling her, it dawned on her understanding that this was not random and was not going to end soon with an indication that could let her leave. Head still down, her veil was pulled off and she breathed in the air of the demon’s relief. Her identity was confirmed, one consoled the other. While she silently choked for air, feeling her breath getting stuck in her throat they pulled her to the closest tree there. Then they began with the laughs, the talks, the abuses and the sighs; then began the unabashed display of power; then began the absolute use of force; then began the humiliation and the disgrace, the exploitation and the violence. In broad daylight, in one of the busiest places of the village, in the witness of an uncountable number of people, she was raped. She was raped through and through, in full measure. She was raped without a word, without defiance, without struggle, without obstructions. She was raped of her self-respect, of self-esteem, of a confidence, of a self belief. She was raped of her innocence, of a sense of right and wrong, of an ability to think and function as a normal human being. Why, how, what, when and who were questions that weren’t asked and never would be. So she lay there, like a lifeless constitution of flesh and bones impassive and unresponsive of any touch or attack to her body. In some view, this wouldn’t even be considered rape, she realised. There was no fight to counter, no confrontation to challenge. She lay there till her mind stopped working and her senses collapsed and she viewed nothing but a black void. She gave in to a dysfunctional body as she tried imagining her brother’s face on the rapists. She tried imagining if her brother was the same, or if he had displayed a modicum of mercy when he had seen the girl’s helpless face. She tried imagining if the girl had begged for compassion, for clemency or if she too had given in at the final hour.
With the acceptance of a defeated case and a lost cause, she answered her questions in her head. She knew who these people were and who they had been sent by. She knew she was the scapegoat to even out her brother’s crime. She was being raped for having committed the crime of being the sister of the one who raped. These were the representatives of the law makers of their village. This was their way of making the score even. She was grateful that they had exonerated her mother. But she wondered when this cycle would end; an eye for an eye, a stone for a brick, a girl for a girl, a rape for a rape. And in that moment, she repelled herself. She cursed herself, the hour that she was born, as a girl, as the sister to the rapist. She felt sheer disgust for being the respect of the family, the honour and the grace of the community; having to uphold everything that a cultured family stood for and then to fall prey to her brother’s sins. In the midst of the way things worked around, she tried imagining her life as her own. She tried and failed miserably.
She wondered when this would end. She wondered when the day would come when a girl would take birth, wholly and purely as a girl. She tried picturing when the day would come, when a girl would live for herself, a life defined on her terms. She tried and she failed miserably.