As I read the Indian newspapers about the ghastly Mumbai Incident, I am suddenly glad that I am not in India. I am glad that my daughter is not in India. I am being unpatriotic I know. I don’t care. The safety of my daughter is more important to me. I cannot think about the country. I feel too insecure to do that.
I don’t want to live in insecurity each second she is outside the house with me or even with her father. Her father is no superman. No one is. There were male companions with both the victims in Delhi and Mumbai who could not help them. No one can help one against beasts. My mother always asked whether any of the male friends were with me when I was out late in the evening, as reassurance. Mothers now don’t have that reassurance. That illusion is broken. I feel now i’d rather go out alone in India rather than take my husband or brother. At least they wont get hurt in the process too.
As my daughter grows up in a foreign country, I am at least giving her a sense of freedom.
I want her to be care free. I don’t want vile lusty eyes following her each move when she is out. I had them for 25 odd years of my adult life. I have lived in all metros in India and no where did I escape those eyes. I was lucky, just plain lucky, that I was not Nirbhaya or the Mumbai girl. It could have been me. It could have been you. It’s just that we were lucky and they were not.
I say luck because I don’t think any counter measures a girl takes in India would really work. Maybe against a single person or two but with a group of people attacking, one is grossly outnumbered.
I talk of India to my daughter everyday. I tell her about all that she is missing. But there is something really important I give a miss. I am secretly glad she is not in India. I don’t tell her that. I am happy that she can enjoy her innocent childhood as an equal to other boys in her playgroup. I am happy that she doesn’t have to realise too soon that she is a girl and she has to be on guard at every moment.
I can remember, way back, as a tender 5-year-old in a Delhi bus, a man asking me to sit on his lap as there was no place in the bus. He could have given his place to me and mother but he persistently insisted that I sat on his lap and he wasn’t pointing at his lap. I was a 5-year-old girl who didn’t know the world but I was repulsed by that man and just wanted to be back home where it would be safe. I realised at that tender age that I was a girl and I was a prey.
I do not want that feeling to creep in my girl so early. She doesn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve it. No girl does. She greets everyone on the street and offers them a huge smile. I want that to stay on for a while. I don’t want her to be wary of the strangers on the road.
I know I will return to India soon. It might be a vacation or for long-term but till then I feel I want my daughter to enjoy her life as a child. Not as a girl child. But just as a child.
I am glad I am not in India and I am ashamed, as a citizen of the country, of all the men who make me feel so. I am glad I am not in India but especially, I am glad that my daughter is not there in India right now.
I, now have just one prayer for India. I hope some drastic measures are taken. I hope the women start feeling safer there. I hope I start missing living in India again soon. I hope that I start feeling like raising my daughter in India again. It’s a wish every Indian woman prays for.
An erstwhile Quality Analyst, Sirisha Achanta, is now a full-time mommy to an adorable 2-year-old girl and a part-time writer. She loves to dance, dream and read a lot!