It's all on me
I may have worn a miniskirt,
Or perhaps a saree
I may have worn a burqa for crying out loud
But ultimately, it’s all on me
Because I was inappropriately dressed
At least there was no discrimination here
I could’ve been in the fields
Or enjoying myself at a party
I could have been within the confines of my house
But it’s all on me
Because I was at the wrong place
It could’ve been a night, dark and cold
Or perhaps a day, bright and sunny
I could’ve been strolling in the evening
But it’s all on me
Because it was the wrong time.
I could’ve been alone or in a group
But forgive me for not being able to break free
When multiple bruisers pinned me down
And had their fill
Even though I honestly can’t see how a man would’ve
Fared better when subjected to such vile physicality
Yet, I concede it’s all on me
Because I was weak.
Maybe I’ve never even hugged a man
But I was most certainly up for the intimacy
For I, driven by lust, was desirous of it
But it’s fine, the fault is mine, really
After all, it’s all on me
Because I was asking for it.
I may have been the most shy and secretive person
So why should I mind it when everyone
Blatantly violated my privacy?
First when my antagonists assaulted me.
Next, when the men of ‘justice’ had to
Carry out their inquest
When the doctors had to reconfirm the veracity
Of my ‘questionable’ claims
When the media found it more mature
To subject me to an interview
Than offer me their sympathy
How could it not be on me?
I am, after all, an open book.
I may have been an introvert, or an extrovert
Or perhaps an ambi
But today, even the few people I knew to be friends
Have turned to nothing more than uncomfortable stares
Funny part is, I’m being judged for the actions of social outcasts
Based on act I was involuntarily a part of
Society made its final conclusions on who I was
And what my character consisted of
But it’s all on me
For it was in my nature to be raped.
I’ve held respectable views of all genders
Be them male, female, or otherwise
The heinous act a few mongrels committed
Which made me a ‘victim’
Didn’t change my views about any sex in particular
But sparked off a war between people
With the same set of limbs, senses and brains
But evidently not a singular mindset
For they would have understood it isn’t men or women
It’s the people who wrong not just society,
But all ethical understanding
Of course, again, it’s all on me
Because I assumed what we lived in was called a ‘civilisation'.
The tireless hands never halt,
To ask about the reason of working so hard,
Witnessing every virtue and every fault,
Be it someone young, old, well-to-do or a retard.
The ticking sound is just a reminder,
That you possess something which everyone else has,
And then it also acts as a gardener,
removing the weeds out of the lush green grass.
Referred as wealth and even as power,
Used for bridging people or destroying the social tower,
While it sees some building themselves out of ashes,
It also is the audience for those dying out of mere crashes.
Playing the role of a healer, it can heal the deepest pains,
Or that of a mother, nurturing the hidden emotions,
Wipe away the tears and surrender to the rains,
The strongest can even fall if subjected to corrosions.
So try not to beg, rather make it pay,
Find yourself out even of the darkest trench,
Because it won’t ever pause to be surprised and say,
“The river was flowing nearby, still your thirst didn’t quench!”
“Salim... Salim! Arre kaha par hai? jaldi se upar aaja.” “Aaya ammi.” Then sprouted up from the stairs, a 12 year old Salim, slim and agile, short hair cut straight along the forehead, wearing just his vest and an underwear, running under the sun, his face glowing with the most innocent of laughters. “Ji ammi?” said Salim in his sinless little voice. “Aise kyu ghoom raha hai? Kapde kyu nahi pahne tune? Ab sardi badh rahi hai. Badalte mausam me sambhal kar rahna chahiye.” Ammi looked at his naughty little eyes that were looking back at her. Her heart smiled. “Aaja mere paas baith. Thodi der dhoop sek le, mai sar me malish kar deti hu.”
Salim sat down on the ground, in front of his mother who was sitting on a brown wooden rope cot. They basked under the morning sun, Ammi massaged some oil on Salim’s hair, and Salim sat enjoying his mother’s love. “Tere mama ne bahut acche school me baat kari hai tere liye Banaras me. Tu acche se padhai karna. Vaise bhi mere Salim ki sab tareef hi karte. Bahut hoshiyar hai mera beta.”
Ammi kissed Salim on his head. Salim smiled. “Parso tu chala jaayega. Mama ke ghar rahega. Acche se rahna vaha par. Apna khayal rakhega na?” Salim turned to Ammi and said, “Haa Ammi, aap chinta kyon karte ho? Aapka Salim ab bada hogaya hai.” Ammi smiled and looked at Salim’s face. A look that wanted to capture every bit of her son forever in her eyes. “Arre Salim!” called his Abba from the patio below. Salim ran to the edge of the roof, “Ji Abba?” “Aaja tujhe baazar le chalu. Parso subah tu jaayega to vaha tujhe kya kya jaroorat padega, sab leke aate hai. Aaja jaldi se.” Salim turned to Ammi who smiled and nodded her head. He ran down the stairs in the excitement of his new goodies. . .
(Somewhere in Lucknow)
"Arre bhaiya jaldi chalo! Train chhoot jaayegi. “ “Bhaiya hum kya kar sakte hai. Auto chala rahe hai, hawai jahaj thodi na...” And I reached the station just in time. I ran towards platform number 3. I could see my train under me, beginning to move, as I rushed from over the bridge. I ran down the stairs and jumped into the nearest bogie that I could reach with the one backpack I had, and sat down at the door to take some long heavy breaths. I got down at Barabanki junction to get to my bogie. As I settled on my berth, the train started moving. I looked out the window and saw a woman running behind the bogie. The train caught speed and the woman could not; catch the train. I sat down. The train was full. No vacant berths. Mine was berth number three, lower berth, lucky me... Or was I? The other three seats in my compartment belonged to this small family of three - Mr. And Mrs. Sharma and their 5 year old child, Harsh. They were a happy little family, going to Harsh’s grandma’s home for vacations. Harsh took his place on the upper berth, playing with his air filled ball. I always like watching little kids, involved so deeply in their little activities. We all settled down. Mr. Sharma was quite a jolly and friendly person. He told me how much he loved to visit his mother on every vacation. Listening to his lovely tales, I too started to miss my mother. He also told me that the TTE had marked my seat empty, as I didn’t board at Lucknow. So now I had to get my own seat back from him. I got up and moved to the aisle to look for the TTE. Crash! Blared a loud, harsh sound past my ears. I was floating. Slow. The bogie turning around me. Berth no. 6, unoccupied. The air turning red. All of it sketching a panorama. Faster than I could feel. Slower than I could see. A splash beside my ear; left. Turning around, a look at the flickering bulb, the light dimming with my vision, slow and calm.
Harsh hit his head. The redness on the wall. My vision turning grey. Sharma ji’s body pressing against the berth... I hit the ground before I could know. I felt the pressure entering my body, the pain killing me from left to right. The sound of my broken ribcage, as it pumped with my heart. I lay there; the floor pushing on me. The small body of a baby girl lied in front of my eyes. Looking at that baby’s small face; red with blood, my sight turned black.... The next I opened my eyes, I could see a man’s hands, holding around my shoulders, and another man holding my legs. I could see people lying all around. I heard a woman cry... “Salim…Sali...”