Of dread and hope

And so Nirbhaya's gone... a sad sad end to the year.

Each day we read about scores of rapes. We read them with anguish and dread then put away the papers and get on with our lives.. each day. Yet, what is it about Nirbhaya that I can't get her out of my head? Why is it that the scene haunts me.. a happy 23-year-old boarding a bus with a friend, the 'normal' eve-teasing starting off, taking a scary turn and then turning into something horrific. Each night as I've gone to bed these last few days she's been with me. Oh I've gone about my days.. playing with the kids, celebrating Christmas and birthdays but she has remained, a sad presence that refuses to go away.

A lot, of course, has to do with the media, the constant news coverage .. the papers, the television, updates, debates, views, news. And then there's the gruesomeness of the crime and the fact that it happened in our Capital not in some tiny mofussil town.

Even as I bid her farewell I can find little place for hope in my heart.

All I find is dread.

Dread for my daughter...She's growing up... fast. How will I ensure she's safe? How will I ever let her walk the streets alone? How will I ever trust she'll be safe when she's out with her friends?

And an even greater dread for my son. He's growing up too... from a baby to a boy. I see him change everyday. He likes hanging out with older boys. I'm not sure I like that. However no longer can I choose his friends. Besides, they aren't bad boys.. just a few years older... and that makes a difference. There was a time he loved playing with kitchen sets. I saw him being teased, not just by the boys but the girls too. Soon, enough he gave it up. He likes chatting to me, hanging out in the kitchen.. will that go too, with time?

I'm scared.

Will I lose my connect with him? Will the stereotypes take over completely? In a few years time, will I not know him? How long will it be before the seemingly innocent "Girls can't play cricket and boys don't play with kitchen sets" changes to the ominous "girls are weak, boys are strong"? And how long before it turns into the truly evil, "If you don't do what I tell you, I will make you"?

Pic Courtesy Google

Soon.. it'll be very soon if I let the dread take over, if I let Nirbhaya signify 'dread' rather than 'hope'.

If I want my children to remain mine, I have to keep the hope alive, along with her memory. I, only I can do that and I will.

I once dreamed about a safe country and I will have it. I will keep the connection alive with my children. I will not let them fall prey to stereotypes. I will teach them to value humans .. men and and women alike. I will not let men rule the roads. They belong to my daughter as to my son. She will walk out alone... at night, if she needs to,... and she will be safe because I taught my son well.

RIP, Nirbhaya.

The post is part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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