Am I next?

Its not today for the first time that this feeling crept in. And for all I know its definitely not the last that I imagined myself getting raped, against my will, forcefully and cruelly.

It has always been in my memory that news snippets describing brutal have appeared on every news channel. Only initially was it surprising that rape news made it to the top news of the day almost daily. Then it became routine. Somewhere the security and comfort around me asked my sane mind to ignore them, like just not heed any news item describing a woman harassment case. Yet in those days, I have distinct memories of asking papa to change the channel for the disturbances it caused in my head.

And then slowly, without any conscious knowledge, I started getting nightmares. Nightmares where I pictured all these said descriptions graphically in my sleep getting abused sexually. Suddenly, sex for a teenage girl wasn't a fantasy anymore. Men who gave me vicious stares on my way home would be the antagonists of my little movie. Where of course, their harmless looks took the form of a wicked reality. Before I could even forget the course of events happening in my dreams, I would be fed with newspaper articles the following day. These thoughts were becoming like haunted ghosts, except that I was a living proof of the form in which ghosts existed.

Suddenly feeling safe became a priority. Suddenly the feeling of having people around always started mattering. Suddenly I felt like I needed more hugs more often or hear the words, "I will be there for you". Suddenly I was dreaming less about my backpacking trips alone but rather with a group of travel enthusiasts. For a long time I told myself that travel is more enjoyable when with friends. I remember traveling in the rickshaw with a friend, and then hugging on tightly just because I saw a Crime Patrol poster on a bus advertising rape statistics. I don't think I felt so insecure mentally ever.

The nightmares were an on-and-off business. Little incidents like a man pinching my butt on the station bridge or a man trying to grope me triggered them occasionally. I would weep in silence as those thoughts troubled me. I think I should have spoken about them to someone right at its inception. I tried finding solace as I wrote short poems like Worries of a Woman. 

Now that I think 50 shades of Grey is not at all an arousing book or porn is just not exciting as it should be. It is all scary. Anurag Kashyap's movies, documentaries on women harassment and news snippets buzzed around. I can associate only pain with anything remotely sexual. 

The Nirbhaya documentary sure points out the cheap mentality of men out there. It sure voices the opinion of liberal women and men fighting for justice. Kirron Kher's argument in the court is definitely worth clapping for. But, do they make me feel safe? No. Sure I felt like slapping those lawyers hard on their faces as they compared women to flowers and gems. I felt angered as the convict spoke so calmly without regret or shame in his eye. But that rage melted away in seconds of its genesis, giving birth to fear and crippling me with endless questions about my existence. If a man's company couldn't save Jyoti, how can I expect it to save me in my situation? What is safety? What am I really seeking here? Even I don't know.

While on one hand I want to change the world at a top-notch tech firm with latest advancements in technology, the thought of "Am I really contributing?" arises. While I have several opportunities to travel and sing and enjoy merrily, my safety is my concern. It is a shame that an educated, well-protect happy girl like me has to go through this. It is annoying that men who were sentenced to death are still breathing. It is also fearful that while I took 20 minutes penning my thoughts down, somewhere another girl realized the nightmare for real.

This post will be archived somewhere, unknown, will float around for a while and just like how this news will die down, no one will ever know how scary this night has been for me. No one will really wonder how many other women thought, "Am I next?"