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Mira watched her husband, the prominent youth leader of the neighbourhood, address his clan of loyals in their courtyard from their kitchen. Quite a few of the group had gathered.
Trigger Warning: This speaks of overt and covert violence against women and may be triggering to survivors.
‘Turn off the phone Sophie,’ Mira yelled, ‘that video is not something anyone should see.’
Sophie didn’t respond. She stood up and shut her room door instead. The video was hard to watch but she was going to watch it anyways. In fact, she’d make sure every one of her friends sees it. Shutting your eyes doesn’t make the world pretty…
Mira was now knocking on the door. Sophie ignored her.
‘Did you see the Manipur video? Can you believe it? We need to do something.’ Mira watched her husband, the prominent youth leader of the neighbourhood, address his clan of loyals in their courtyard from their kitchen. Quite a few of the group had gathered.
‘No one can see that video anymore Bhai. Govt. has shut it down.’
‘That’s even more shameful.’ Ravi roared. ‘They want to hide what is going on using women’s honour as an excuse. If it was under the opposition’s rule, they’d pay to play it everywhere.’
‘The problem, Ravi, is not that,’ Panditji responded. ‘Yes, that’s problematic, but that’s not the problem here.’ Panditji didn’t speak much – which added to his general gravitas and contributed to the weightage attached to his words when he did. ‘The problem is that you all find that video necessary to know that this has happened. This has been happening for ages and has happened in every mass conflict in this country. Let alone mass, this is the way in personal conflicts too. Didn’t you know already this must be happening?’
‘This happened two months back. And in Manipur. This government has ignored Manipur.’
‘It doesn’t matter if it happened in July, May, or September. It doesn’t matter if it happened in Delhi or Manipur. What matters is that we seem to be surprised that this has happened. We like to pretend that we don’t live in one of the nations where parading women naked and gang rape are usual tools to get the upper hand. We even use these as threats all the time.’
‘Tea.’ Mira entered the room and placed the tea tray on the centre table. She’d not be asked to join in the discussion. In fact, Ravi would admonish Mira with his eyes if she lingered too long. Mira didn’t give Ravi the chance. Especially in a discussion like this – it’d be uncomfortable to have a woman around.
‘Don’t you think this happens in Bengal? Rajasthan? UP? Kashmir? Here?’ Panditji finished his thought which had been interrupted by Mira’s entrance.
Sophie was listening to her father’s council meeting. Mira’s approaching footsteps had startled her and she had scurried into the room next door, hiding herself behind the semi-open door. Now she was back out and was able to see all of them again, although they couldn’t see her.
She knew all of these men. All of them, alone and together, when slighted could attack a woman. In times of peace, she’d have to only step out of the lines they draw for that to happen. In times of conflict, that wouldn’t matter.
Sophie stood at the door staring at them inside, she didn’t have the courage to walk into the room full of men – in her own house. What if she crossed their line?
Image source: Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash
Tanushree Ghosh (Ph. D., Chemistry, Cornell, NY), is Director at Intel Corp., a social activist, and an author. She is a contributor (past and present) to several popular e-zines incl. The Huffington Post US ( read more...
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