“She walked on, head held high, a confident gaze shot back at the piercing, mocking, questioning, lecherous eyes.” A hard-hitting short story.
Here is the third winner of our September 2016 Muse of the Month contest, Seema Taneja.
The cue was: “It was a choice that turned in another direction from the freedoms she had so often longed for and fought for.” — Nilanjana Roy, The Girl Who Ate Books: adventures in reading.
She reached the school. Stood there at the gate. Looked around at the hep students. At their piercing eyes. She retraced her steps from the school.
She reached the sports ground. Looked at the boys kicking football through the fence. Heard their taunts and jibes.
She retraced her steps from the stadium.
She reached the institute. Looked at the smartly turned out receptionist, the fashionistas. Squirmed at their scornful glances. She retraced her steps from the acting institute.
She reached the factory. She asked for a job, any job. Looked at the greedy glint in the manager’s eyes. She retraced her steps from the factory.
She reached the streets. Head down, her wet eyes rained droplets on the tar covered hot black roads. “Kya hua, what happened, need some help?” they gathered around her-the vultures eyed the new prey hungrily.
She did not dare to raise her eyes, she did not dare to look at their lecherous eyes. She retraced her steps.
She changed her course. They still taunted her. They still scorned her.
She changed her path. They still gathered around her. They still followed her. They still leched. They still touched her……the uncles, the bhaiyas, the friends, the managers, the repulsive goons on the streets.
She fought back.
They did not retrace their steps!
She went to the police. Looked at them with hope. She pleaded with them to listen to her plight, she appealed to them for help. They laughed at her, called her delusional. They told her to ‘adjust’. Men will be men, they said.
She retraced her steps.
She went home, to seek solace in the warm lap of her parents., to let herself a few deep breaths of safety and peace.
She sought refuge in her home where she could claim a few moments of freedom.
They did not retrace their steps-the sexist society. They said she had invited them, the vultures were innocent.
They did not retrace their steps-the savage media. They called her a slut, a shameless woman.
They retraced their steps-her loving family. They said she had sullied the family’s honour. They told her to go, anywhere. Or better still, die.
She reached the shore, to cleanse her name in the depths of the sullied waters. To seek freedom, from everything, from everyone.
“It was a choice that turned in another direction from the freedoms she had so often longed for and fought for.”
She looked at the swirling muddy waters. The swollen river stared back. It questioned her choice. It refused to give her the ‘freedom’ she desired, in her womb.
The river retraced her steps.
The girl retraced her steps. She changed her direction. She walked on, head held high, a confident gaze shot back at the piercing, mocking, questioning, lecherous eyes.
Firm steps trod a new road, road to freedom.
Seema Taneja wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!