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This needs to be said: in this country, we, the so-called ‘educated crowd’ have normalised communal hatred. The brunt was borne by an innocent child.
In December 2012, my husband and I came back from a year stint in London. We were given a temporary accommodation at the Infosys campus where he was working then. As he went to work, I tuned into the news on TV. The words ‘gang-rape, New Delhi, moving bus, Safdarjung hospital’ assailed my ears.
As the day advanced, more words like ‘iron rod, abdomen, intestines and genitals’ surfaced, which smeared my heart with indescribable agony and anguish. “What would have happened had it been me?” “Will she survive?” “What will the future hold for her?” These were my thoughts at that hour, which resonate with so many of you.
As the days passed, I was taken over by exasperation and had more questions hanging over my head: “Who are these people?” “Where did they come from?” “How are their families still supporting them?” Lastly and most importantly, “What is our system doing?” “When will this country be safe for our women?” And yes, I feel this more often than not, “Why I am I living in this country?”
Just as the year 2012 ended, so did our hope for Nirbhaya to survive. The culprits were sentenced to hang and I felt, “Ab isse bura dekhne ko kya reh gaya hai?” (Can anything worse happen?)
Enter the child from Kathua.
Rape is an every day affair in this country and each has a painful story embedded in it. But then, there are some cases which pluck your heart out, stomp on it, make your blood and feelings ooze and shatter you into pieces. They scar you for life and make you question your cognitive belief system. This is one of those cases.
8 years. That young. I don’t want to get into details, as we must all have been through that 18-page charge sheet, which did shrink our souls and our very humanity. But yes, there are words and lines I want to quote, “they performed rituals before they raped her” “under the roof of Lord” “raping her one last time before she was put to a miserable end” “Hindu-Muslim fuels religious tension” “Carrying national flags and shouting anti-Pakistan slogans so that culprits are realized”.
Jhanda ucha rahe hamara, hum bhale kitne hi gir jaaye. (Our flag will stay high, no matter how low we fall). So this is the state of our country. We have fallen so low, that we have to find a new definition for “low”. You bring your national flag to cover all your sins and it’s justified.
Only one thing makes a difference – your name, your religion. So that last word is the root cause of this fiasco – Religion.
I am confidant that the culprits think they have done this in the name of Lord Ram. They think they are right, they are performing their duty, their offerings. Because that’s what it has always been! No matter which religion it is, they think that’s what their Lord has taught them. The Lord never spoke to them but they speak on HIS behalf. They are the self-declared messengers of the Lord.
So, they thought tormenting an 8 year old girl from a nomadic community will set the record straight, will suffice to drive away the Bakarwal community. This is the religion they are fighting about.
Need I say, religion does not teach you that? They are reading it wrong. But then, of course, they have not read the books; they have been fed by the evil. Otherwise how can they abide by their acts? And then there are supporters, including the administration, the lawmakers. Your soch (mindset) disgusts me.
Let me tell you, my girl has been raised by two people who come from different faiths and it is not anyone’s business. What we teach her is not what you should bother with. How she adjusts to that is none of your concern. Why are Indians so latched on to caste, creed, and religion? I am with my husband for the last 16 years and I know what looks we get, time and time again. What bizarre comments we address when they see Shahzeel Jawed married to Saumya Srivastava. Yes, we married each other, and no, it is NOT YOUR BUSINESS. Why don’t you take the time and energy to do something constructive for your country, your family, or yourself?
I cannot take this child out of my head, her eyes haunt me. Today morning I confided in my sister how her big eyes remind me of Mysha, my daughter. Her mother addressed her as a “chirping bird” while Mysha is addressed as “Chiya”. Her two ponytails, her innocence…everything is so relatable. This child calls out to me more so because I am raising Mysha Jawed. While the latter is related to me by blood, the earlier knocked on my very soul. How many more will we sacrifice in the name of religion?
Lastly, be very careful what you are feeding your children. Hatred does not conquer us overnight; it takes years to place that thick layer of mental blocks. Don’t scoff me with the line, “Ah no! We are the educated crowd”. Education doesn’t provide for your religious opinions. You might have read enough, but may have understood it wrong. Can I suggest you understand humanity before you see the name-tag? Over the years I have seen the worst communal remarks coming from this so-called-educated crowd. They are so open to understanding until it comes to religion. They become rigid, impervious to explanation and are full of opinions.
Like all, I am praying for the little soul. I am sure she is in a better place, where she is just a beautiful soul – pure and away from judgment and hatred. Meanwhile we Indians need to think how we raise our children amidst such hatred and make sure this hatred is not seeping in their heads. Like before I feel, “isse bat-tar kya hoga”. (What can be worse than this?) I hope I don’t get an answer.