Sunday 2 October 2016

Candid Diaries (Concluding Part)

Read Part 1 of the story here - Candid Diaries


‘Something’s not right….. Why do I feel this pain in the body, and why do some parts feel sore?...... The bed feels different…. Wait, this can’t be the bed.’

It wasn’t a dream after all. The sun’s rays had hit her face hard. She was lying on a bench in a park, with the red dress soiled and the face bruised. As she tried to get to her feet while trying to recollect the events of the previous night, she found that her dress was torn, and in some very wrong places. After a few seconds of looking around for her phone, she realized how silly that hope was. She closed her eyes for a minute, to gather her thoughts.

It didn’t seem correct to go to her uncle’s house in that state. She hailed a taxi.

“What the f*** happened here!” Sakshi shrieked.

“Will you please pay the taxi driver? I have got to take a shower and shall need your clothes,” Meera replied in a very calm but assertive tone. Her face was devoid of any expressions.

As the water poured down over her limbs, she tried hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And like a sudden flash, that sound echoed in her ears, ‘Gori chikni mem!’

“I need to borrow some bread.”

When Sakshi looked at her blankly, she explained, “I mean cash.”

Using her friend’s phone, she made a quick call to her uncle to tell her whereabouts. “I will have to go. I’ll talk to you later, please.” She added.

“Here, take this,” said Sakshi, placing a phone in her hand. “I can manage without one for a while.” 

Once in the office premises, Meera started looking around frantically for that one person who she believed could give her a few leads.

“Watchman uncle,” she screamed from a distance when she spotted him.

She chatted him up and figured out that the guy in question was the son of the local MLA. A wealthy and influential spoilt brat, he was the youngest in the family with zero interest in politics. The aged watchman had recognized the man instantly, having been a loyalist of the political party for a long time.

She called up her office and informed them that she was taking the day off. And then went straight to the park where she had woken up a few hours ago. As she sat on the bench, with a calm and cold demeanor, it suddenly dawned upon her that her mom must have been waiting, anxiously.

She took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and dialed the US number. She did all the talking without a pause and did not spare any detail.

“I’ll be there, tomorrow,” was all her mom said.

She dialed another number, Sakshi’s, and repeated everything. Then she asked Sakshi to come and fetch her at the park.

Sakshi arrived soon and sat next to her holding her hand. “How, why, I don’t know what to say! Come, let’s go home. You need some rest,” she advised.

“No. Take me to a hospital and then to the nearest police station,” Meera insisted.

“Have you thought this through Meera?”

“Totally,” she replied.

“You do realize that these are influential people and you are in India?” Sakshi was clearly worried. “You’ve not even allowed me enough time to digest the incident and now this.”

“I haven't allowed myself that time either.”

“Meera, this is scary!”

“Do you have a pen and paper?” asked the determined woman.

“Yes. Why?”

“Just write the details down and give me. I need to get going,” Meera stood up as she said that.

“Oye, you might be braver and stronger than I am, but I certainly am a better friend. Don’t stare at me like that now. Let’s get going.”

There was an intentional silence after Meera narrated her account to the Police Inspector at the police station. He looked at her minutely.

Kay ghaatla hota Bai?” asked the Inspector in the local language.

“He wants to know what you were wearing at night. I don’t like this Meera.” Sakshi got uncomfortable.

“I understand the language Sakshi. The answer is Clothes,” she replied audaciously. “I was wearing Clothes.” Mere looked the cop in the eye.

Bai funny hai, haha. Oh madam, samjhao apne dost ko jyada shanpatti nahi karneka,” he warned.

Kitna daaru piya tha?” was the next question. He demanded to know how intoxicated she was.

“Will you be passing the judgment right here, right now? Are you an inspector cum lawyer cum judge all rolled into one?”

Sakshi squeezed Meera’s shoulder, signaling her to calm down, and requested the Inspector to hear them out.

“What izz proof? Complaint kaayko likhoon main?” He went on.

Meera pulled out the medical report she was carrying.

Isorry Maidam, round ka time ho gaya. Kal aana.” He got up and left, citing an excuse of duty, and asking them to return the next day.

“Sorry Meera,” said a dejected Sakshi.

“Don’t be! I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. But a battle never really is.”

She sat in a taxi and rode off to the US Embassy. Within the next couple of hours, a formal complaint was registered against Vikas Pawar.

Meera stayed up all night, reading up material on the Internet, on rape cases in general, and rape cases in India in particular.

Even before the sun rose in its full glory, she stepped out for a stroll. She saw the chai vendor at the corner of the street setting up his stall, on her way back. Meera would pass by him daily, but observed him intently for the first time in a year. He appeared to be a harmless looking fellow, minding his own business.

Would she be able to feel safe around him again, she thought to herself. Rather would she be able to feel safe around any man again? She had read about it, seen it on TV, but had never in her wildest of dreams imagined, that there would come a point in her life, where she would find herself wondering, if men around her could be trusted at all.

She didn’t realize she was staring at him pointblank, until he looked up and smiled at her. She gave a smile back hesitantly and walked back home.

After a bath and a light breakfast, she hit the laptop once again. The fatigue eventually took over and she gave in, grabbing the much-needed sleep for a few hours. She felt her mom’s hand caressing her hair, and thought she was fantasizing. But when a drop of tear landed on her arm, she woke up.

“Mom, it is you!” She hugged her tight. For the first time after the incident, she let her guard down and cried her heart out.

“Are you sure you want to do this darling?” asked the nervous mother, once the tears were wiped and the two women were at ease.

“I loved the world around me, until I saw for myself, how some people set out to ruin others lives for their own egotistic agendas. Somebody has used a part of me without my consent. And I will never find peace until I make the jerk understand, that he so didn’t have that right!”

“I have always adored India. I’ve grown up listening to stories of your life here. Then one day, I arrived on this soil to build my own memories. And I treasured each one of them, until I met this monster.”

“There are a bunch of self-centered scoundrels here Ma, who feel they can get away with anything. They adorn the social media, but that’s about it. I feel it would be unfair to this Country, if this incident overpowers all my other experiences here. And if the only message I send across to Indians abroad is this! I will do what I can.”

Her mom was stunned. “When your dad abandoned me, had I been alone, the normal me would’ve crashed. But strangely, I stood there, strong and upright, without any iota of doubt about the future. That wasn’t me, it was you. I knew right then, that there was no ordinary soul in my womb.”

She looked Meera in the eye. “Have I ever told you how proud I feel to be your mom?”

“No! But better late than never,” Meera smiled and lay her head on her mother’s lap. Her jests reinstated the confidence in the mother, that her daughter was tough enough to fight anybody.

After the newspapers flashed headlines about an Indo-American woman filing a complaint against an influential man, the landlord requested Meera to find another dwelling. She moved out in Aarav’s absence.

In another couple of days, she was back at the desk. All her friends were their usual self, except for the one guy she was really looking forward to meet. Sid maintained a safe distance and smiled back once, only when she smiled at him.

“Meera,” Sakshi began in a comforting tone.

Meera cut her off short. “It’s cool, dearie. Life has a weird way of making things crystal clear. I’m glad I hadn’t jumped the gun with him.”

“Those guys actually tried to use their weight to send you back home.” Ruchi came to the lunch table. “You being an American, they couldn’t do much.” Ruchi had stayed at an arm’s length from Meera, more out of fear than anything else. She dropped by for a quick update and left.

While Meera was busy talking to lawyers, and making the groundwork for her case, she learnt that the bigwig was out on anticipatory bail, and it was business as usual, for him. The next day a new Facebook page appeared on the Internet - SAVE YOUR ASS VICKASS.

The About Page read as follows:

Me: Meera Naik. Rings a bell? Of course it does! A 20-something Indo-American woman. Brought up abroad, but Desi to the core. Of course, I’d like to get laid, but only with my choice of men!

Him: Wait! Should I call Vikas a He or It? His deeds may prove otherwise, but I can vouch for one thing, he does have ‘the’ organ, so let’s call him a He. For now.

Agenda: The page title is self-explanatory!

The page went viral, and received tens of thousands of likes. The first update on the page was a candid click, of the red dress.
·      “The cops wanted to know what it was that I was exactly wearing. Here it is.”

Smashing and hard-hitting updates kept the page alive and kicking.

·      “You thought that your exotic language would scare me Sir. Hard luck, I’ve grown up learning Hindi and Marathi.”

·      ““Kitna daaru piya tha?” That was the next question in line. I thought you were smarter than that Sir! Every girl brought up in America learns the art of drinking (and not getting high) almost as the same time as she learns to kiss. For that matter, every girl in metro cities in India does too.”

·      “To register or not to register, that was the question that was troubling Mr. Cop, until a phone call from the US Embassy cleared his doubts.”

·      “They said to me that I shouldn’t mess with the man in white, that he carries a lot of weight. I said never mind, I could carry him pretty well.”

·      “Thanks for arranging to get my drinks spiked, Vikas. Saved me the torture of ghastly visuals.”

·      “And oh yeah Vikas, whosoever told you that size doesnt matter, must’ve said so at gunpoint. I’m sorry to break the myth.”

The case had already garnered a hell lot of media attention. Meera had made appearances on national television. But the Facebook page and the buzz around it, took it a notch higher.

“You are not going to ask me if I’m sure about this?” Meera asked her mom, the day she went to see her off at the airport. She had made up her mind to extend her stay and fight tooth and nail, for justice.

“I’m surer than you are, darling. Kick them, kick them hard. Gheun taak!”


Vishal Bheeroo said...

Leena, it's such a brilliant story on what women faces and the corrupt cops asking nonsensical question rather than filing complaint. You've brought the Marathi flavor so well and the mother-daughter bond.

Maniparna said...

You have narrated it so brilliantly, Leena! The dialogues, the plot, the scintillating updates on the FB page... they all blew me away!

Rajeev Moothedath said...

Well written. Kudos!

Indrani said...

That was very courageous of her.
Definitely there is a lesson to learn here.

Unknown said...

Thanks Vishal!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much Mani dear, so glad you liked it :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Rajeev!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you feel so Indrani!

Sapana said...

Amazing Story as always. Always enjoy reading your posts.
After long time Leena?

Jyoti Dehliwal said...

बहुत बढिया शिक्षाप्रद कहानी...लीना!

Haddock said...

Ha ha..... the "Gheun taak” reminded me of the Marathi actor Dilip Prabhavalkar.

Seena Koshy said...

Love your stories dear.. Very interesting to read.. I don't have this caliber.. ;-) Well executed.. My eyes got wet in between when I connected it to me here and there!!

Jyoti Dehliwal said...

जन्मदिन की बहुत-बहुत बधाई, लीना!