“How could she?”
“How dare she?”
“What a slut!”
“She was most definitely asking for it!”
“WHO asked her to take a walk at 9 pm?”

It was her fault, wasn’t it? The girl next door wanted to live a little. Decided to put on a little black dress and walk into a club with a couple of her girlfriends. Flaunting her knees and legs. Throwing open invitations to come, please, welcome and engulf her respect. Her low cut top turning too many heads in equal proportions of judgment and lust.

How dare she not gracefully stick to wine and beer? How dare she order herself a gin and tonic? Do girls from good families booze on hard liquor?

She danced like there’s no tomorrow. Believed in the good of all. Pretended not to take notice of all eyes on her swaying hips. It was obvious, wasn’t it? It was her fault that a man grazed his front against her or that another would block her way in hopes of bumping into her.
She should’ve known. She should’ve known not to accept her male friend’s request of dropping her home. But wasn’t she safer with a friend than an unknown cab driver? At least that’s what she thought.
Shriveled and shocked as she was, why would she say no to the warmth of the arms of a dear friend to trust him to safely reach home?
And she did. She got into a car with him in hopes of being driven back to those familiar four white walls she slowly began to believe her whole world should revolve around. But she should’ve known better too? That he would stop the car in the middle of nowhere. And run his fingers up her thigh. And when she pushed him off, he’d only pull her closer. Until she was nothing. Until she was a piece of meat lying on the edges of his fingertips buckled by seat belts in the place like cattle. A toy plainly produced for the simple pleasure of man.
And when she didn’t have the courage to fight back anymore, a part of her is killed that night. Her trust ripped off her ribcage lying low on the ground. Her tears wouldn’t suffice the pain she felt physically, how do I begin to cram the words on her mind in a single page.
And when he’d be done pleasing himself, he’d throw her onto the concrete. Like she was paper. A used thing. A thing of the past. Like her entire existence didn’t matter to him more than a couple of minutes of pleasure. Like she had no soul at all.
“It was that dress. You gave away a blatant invitation with a dress like that”, he would hiss at her before shutting the door in her face and driving away into the distance at full speed.

She will muster the courage. To pick herself up. To walk. But not to justice. Not to a police station. But to the silent safety of home. What if there’s another man waiting to touch her skin in the name of parting “justice”.

How could she trust?
Somebody?
Anybody?

She walks home alone in pain that you can feel in your very bones. This isn’t a movie where the lead walks into the shower to cleanse herself of all the scum on her skin from men who touched her without ANY consent. She’s raging. She’s furious.
Independent as she was raised, she was taught what she wears, eats, drinks, people she interacts with; HER CHOICE.
What career she decides to pick. What people she wants to keep close. With a partner or without one.
HER CHOICE.
A girl entering adulthood takes a leap of faith by believing the men around her to be protective of her. The pang of betrayal hurt more than the pain between her thighs.

What happens to a man between the time he is still carried in the womb by a woman and the time he forces himself towards it?
What goes so unfortunately wrong that he doesn’t seem to understand a simple thing: how could you disrespect the roots of your first home?
How could you make the first place you lived in; unsafe, yourself?

Oh, she wanted to rip her insides out for being raised so loud.
So bold
So independent
So confident.
So self-capable.
But all mistaken for what? For wanting it.

That night, she puts fire not to “that sheer dress” but all of the faith she has in humanity. All of the times she was told its okay to wear what you want. It’s okay to drink as a girl. It’s okay to interact with male friends. It’s okay to pick a career of her choice. It’s okay to be… her. A girl.
She sits on the cold tiled floor, setting aflame not that sheer dress. But humanity.
And that is how she stops believing in a better tomorrow for her daughter.
And this is how you lose her.

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Author: Medha Reddy

Former celestial body. Recent cheeky addition to the human race. Loves to run occasional love affairs with words.

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