By Priyanka K.B.:
A few days ago, my friend, who stays in a 1BHK apartment, had a visitor at 9.45 PM. “Swiggy,” the voice said. She was taken aback by the prompt service of the food delivery app as she had just ordered paranthas and dal; the timing was coincidental and unfortunate. With no taint of doubt, she opened the door and saw a tall, bulky man, with a sling bag on his left shoulder. (He wasn’t wearing the usual black or red Swiggy tee shirt.)
“Hi, I wanted to ask you if the guys who stay next door would be home anytime soon,” he inquired, pointing at the only other apartment that the 3rd floor contained.
“I have no idea,” my friend replied casually, and soon shut the door.
Within a minute, her door received another few knocks, which prompted her to open the lock. Maybe he needs to know more about the next door people, she assumed, while having no thoughts of fear or insecurity about other possible agendas.
“I just wanted to know one more thing…,” he whispered; the voice being intense and deep. Sensing an unusual terror, my friend urged to close the door, but unfortunately, the bulky man was quicker than she was. With a single jolt, he pushed her inside, while trying to lock the door behind her. Even before she could scream, he shut her mouth with his hairy arm, and whispered into her ears, “Don’t shout, don’t shout.”
“It was scary,” she recalls, as she narrated to me the next few seconds of the incident that is no less than a stroke of luck. She struggled to push him and loosen his grip on her mouth. She twisted and turned in desperation; tears poured from her eyes and her muscles felt weak. Her persistent struggle to not give in to his horrendous act paid off for a split second, for just a split second, as his grip loosened. Grabbing on to this advantageous moment of potential escape, she slipped from his big, hairy arms, and ran outside the apartment.
Holding on to the little strength and piece of hope she had in her, she screamed aloud. Her screams of cry echoed over all floors, and residents in the floors below stepped out soon.
The bulky monster panicked, ran outside, jumped from the 2nd floor, hurt himself in the act, yet picked up his bike without wasting a second, and left the scene, leaving my friend in a state of terror and discomposure.
While narrating this dreadful incident to the cops, the following was the response that greeted us:
You’re a girl; what is the need for you to stay alone in an apartment?
Who is this guy? Pointing to the male office colleague who accompanied her to the police station.
No major assault or harassment, so we suggest you be more careful the next time, and give us a call if he turns up again.
The insensitive response that my friend received from the cops has rooted myriad questions in my head.
Is it necessary for a rape to occur for the cops to take issues like these seriously? What would’ve happened if my friend wasn’t able to defend herself from the man? Would cops spring into action then? Can a woman not live alone in an apartment without a tinge of fear or insecurity?
The trauma that she has been struck with is indelible, and it’s going to haunt her each time she is encountered by such acts, irrespective of whether it is an attempt or conversion. My mind is overcome by disgust and frustration over the inconsiderate society that’s unashamed to point fingers at women even when they are in distress.
Despite voicing out my vexation (like a million others), our cries are still unheard, still uncared for, and conveniently forgotten.
Tweaking a movie title, I would say, this is ‘no country for women’.