You have been an amazing friend these five years
Five years of freedom
Five years of learning and unlearning
Five years of losing my identity,
Five years of constructing another.
“A strong, independent woman who know no fears”,
That’s what I thought I could be,
That day I was groped
by a man on the bicycle;
It was as if my soul escaped my body!
You know how we are told
To throw stones.
Everything, anything that I could’ve done,
I did it, in my mind.
I replayed that scene over and over and over again,
Dragging that man by the collar, making him apologize,
That would’ve soothe my conscience!
Do you remember the day Hayu (name changed) came home crying
Because a man slapped her butt at
Kashmere Gate metro?
Or the day Laro (name changed) asked me
if he looks promiscuous
Because a man rubbed his penis against him in the metro?
I consoled them,
Yes I did,
But never did I tell them,
Tell them I was groped too!
That shame, that guilt, that fear…..
You know remember the day
someone called me
Kanchi right outside the police station?
Or the day we went
To protest Nido’s death
Chanting “India, give us justice”
How liberating it was to accept the identity
Of being a “Chinky”
Accepting and subverting the tag,
That’s what we call it, right?
Do you remember that day my best friend confessed his feelings,
How weirdly happy we were
To finally experience being loved!
Strangely, a year later
We fell sick,
And he would always
Always berate us for being lazy
And hazy for deviating away from our aim,
Do you remember the day we laughed at him
While he was reprimanding us,
He kicked us in the thigh;
Because we laughed.
Do you remember then,
We took our purse and phone
And ran and ran
By the lanes of Hudson,
We could see no one
Dead of the night,
Teary and searching for contact,
Friends, acquaintance, anyone
To seek refuge!
And I took refuge in Bhopal for a week
To convince myself
That I was a strong, independent woman.
I never once thought that you’d fail to protect me,
That you would turn me away while I seek refuge.
But that’s okay,