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She was molested while playing the Holi, she was sure of that, and she even knew who it was. Should she stand her ground and make an example of him, or let him go because…
Not all stories get a closure.
It was around Holi last year. Ira wasn’t really keen on being a part of the festivity downstairs. It was not her favourite celebration of the year, and with nine-month old Fiza in tow, it was no joke really! But Raghu would have none of it. He would make sure Fiza was well looked after, and Ira could actually let her hair down and have some fun. She so deserved a good break.
Soon enough, Ira had joined her bestie Priya and they were ready to rock the dance floor. Smeared in colour, the two girls chortled at their own silly jokes. Raghu had kept his promise well and was making the most of his time with Fiza. The duo was devouring the gujiyas and sipping from tetra packs. Ira had been slyly keeping an eye on them.
Just as she watched them from a distance, there was a call on the speaker for a round of rain dance. Before she could really make up her mind, she had been pulled into the arena by Priya. And she danced, danced like no one was watching. In a long, long time she had let herself loose. Water trickled down her face, running streams of red and blue where she stood, on the floor. The speakers were blaring and in the loudness of the whole place, she felt a hand around her waist. There was so much jostling around that she immediately brushed it aside. But it wasn’t too late before she felt it again, this time stronger than before. She turned around, with her eyes clouded, managing a glimpse of a man, who swished by like a spectre in the haze.
Ira decided to hang on a bit longer. She did not wish to harbour doubts. She wasn’t sure but her sixth sense made more sense than did her disbelief. It was a cyclic process, and she realized it soon enough, with Priya making a similar disclosure minutes later.
There were two options. Turn around and give it back; move out and leave. How she later wished she had decided upon the first.
Moving out, Ira immediately confided in Raghu, who was absolutely unstoppable. The Holi bash had now turned into a murky confrontation. There were efforts at intimidation; threats and heated arguments. They finally returned home, having made up their mind to lodge a complaint.
That was when the peacemakers stepped in. There were uncles and aunts, secretaries and beneficiaries, the know-it-alls and the subtle cajolers. But these two, they were like rocks. Not ready to budge an inch. Raghu stood his ground and refused to waver even a bit. Priya was sure as well. They had their support group too, but that didn’t really matter. Ira was anyway not giving way. That’s how it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?
Ira wasn’t expecting her in the least. Vijaya had been married for six years and was standing at her door with her fourteen-month-old daughter, the very next day. It wasn’t that Vijaya didn’t trust Ira; she was herself a smart, well-read woman, pretty confident too. But her request seemed so out of place. Forgiveness for the man who should have been made an example of! What kind of a strange request was that?
Vijaya hadn’t seen the best of days in a long time and it was after a big wait that normalcy had returned to her life. Did all of it mean such a thing to Ira? Was it even that big? Could she place herself in Vijaya’s shoes, only for a moment?
As if the day’s meeting wasn’t enough, Ira was continually barraged with phone calls, messages and ceaseless pleas. They would leave the locality, be never seen, would never attend a social function…would compensate in every possible way. Ah! The desperation had begun to get to Ira.
Both Raghu and Priya, on the other hand, weren’t too pleased with her for being unassertive with the woman.
The situation was no less than a mare’s nest. Doing the right thing had always been a norm for Ira. So, what was really stopping her?
Vijaya had been the feminist torch bearer always. Where had all of it vanished now?
It took a while and Ira took her decision. Not in the best interest of everybody, but with the best intent.
I met Ira some months ago when I moved into her neighbourhood and we became friends. When she shared her story with me, I wasn’t in a position to judge her for her decision. But I came home wondering how often we women find ourselves in precarious situations, at crossroads where our own beliefs and convictions are belied by our very own selves. Whether we happen to be Ira or Vijaya.
This Women’s Week, let us ask ourselves what would we do when faced with a dilemma as such? What do you think?
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