Gandhi. Taj Mahal. Corruption. Hockey? No, I think cricket. Rape. Tandoori chicken. The Himalayas. Goa!. Rapes in buses. The British Raj. Hindu-Muslim riots. Domestic abuse. Bollywood. Did I mention RAPE?
It was a Friday evening. It still is actually. I've been interning in Singapore for about a month and a half, so obviously I've been very busy pretending to work hard. So if my life were a wave, my weekends would be the crests, and my weekdays the deepest troughs. (Pardon the analogy, I'm a little shell shocked and I'm trying very hard to make sense).
I was out drinking with a bunch of friends (I'm twenty years old and it's legal here so judge all you want), and all of a sudden I felt incredibly hungry.. so I went to find the 24X7 Subway at Clarke Quay. I walked at a pace proportionate to my level of hunger, a bird's eye view of the sandwich at all times, and somewhere in that process, the friends I was walking with got left behind.
But I went on anyway. After all it was Singapore, not India. I hardly had anything to worry about
"Hullo?" "Hull-ooooo" "Hey there" "Hullllo"
My Delhi instincts told me not to turn back. But then it just got annoying..so I did turn back.As expected, he was talking to me, and I kept ignoring him ( #indiangirllifelesson101)... Until about 5 minutes later, when I just lost it and asked him what his problem was. He laughed. It was more of a sneer actually. So after I'd retorted once, I decided to continue walking and not let him "get to me". Then out of nowhere this guy lunges forward, inches away from my face. I take a step back (and so does the woman holding his arm).. he says, and I quote...
"You're Indian, right? You're used to getting raped?"
For the first time in my life, I was speechless. I am ordinarily fairly confident in my ability to retaliate and call people out on their lack of rationality and judgement. But not this time. I was defenseless. I think maybe, I was weak. My instincts led me to be torn between the response of slapping the guy, and just crying out of sheer disbelief.
And so I cursed him, attempting to sound as strong as I could, and then I ran...feeling possibly the smallest I have ever felt.
Deterrence, restitution and rehabilitation- the pillars of justice. But my mere discomfiture with a situation entitled me to no restitution. My solace lies in being grateful that he didn't actually do anything. It's simple..Think about how much worse it could have been, sympathise with those gazillion other women, play it out in your head, and you'll feel better about your current circumstances. Counter-factual, but convincing.
I wish I better knew where I was going with this. I don't entirely know. I am still trying to fathom the fact that someone insinuated they had a right to rape me because I'm Indian.. I am trying to digest the fact that I've grown up enough to be told such a thing...I'm trying to understand exactly when rape became a part of my inheritance..when my national identity was reduced to a derisive, humiliating and primeval notion of women.
I am attempting to learn how to become...less Indian.
P.S.- He WAS Indian.