Wednesday 18 September 2013

THE Violation, THE Verdict.....An Open letter to Nirbhaya !

Dear Jyoti,

I have wanted to write to you for a long time now, but I have been putting it off , for the dearth of words.

I am writing on behalf of the women in the country. And any woman in the world who can see you in the true light.

Ever since that night, when what you suffered numbed our conscience and created the deep, unfathomable void in our hearts, we have been praying for you.
Did you ever know that the whole country  was with you, as you lay on the bed, fighting for a breath, with all your courage and spirit , laced with a passion for life ?  
Did you come to know that the enraged masses had literally conquered the roads, in their efforts to protest the fate that had befallen you ?
You wouldn’t have. You were fighting a battle there, while we raged on and on, voicing out our anguish at the sheer injustice of all that had happened, praying silently all the while for a miracle to revive you.
But that was not to be.
Your redemption came as a call from God, and you left behind the world of pain and suffering.
You had suffered all that you could and even more. Much much more that what anyone can ever think of  or experience.

In the very short span of time that the world came to know you, you became a symbol.
Of all the worse things a woman can expect to endure in life.
Of the true plight of women in a country where Goddesses are worshipped in the same intensity as their male counterparts. Quite an irony !
Of the real condition of women, how much ever educated they be, in the Land of the Vedas, which preaches the old dictum from manusmrithi , ‘ yatra naryastu poojyante, ramante tatra devataa’.
Of what can actually happen, if a girl celebrates the little joys that life gives her, with a movie or a late night walk.

That wasn’t all. You came to be adored as  the spirit of womanhood.
An icon of the strength latent in a woman.
You made us look deeper into ourselves and find meaning in our mundane, monotonous existence.
We opened our eyes to the fact that despite all the ‘emancipation proclamations’ that keep floating in the air, the women of the country are still the deprived lot. I say deprived because, we are being robbed off the security for life. We are forced to think that the whole life is to be spent behind the veils.
We were shocked that, for every rape that is reported, there are many which are silenced.
We learnt the very tough way that we cannot expect even an iota of love , respect and security from the society where lusting eyes ogle at us.

Of course, none of this knowledge was new to us.
 But it was  your struggle, the courage you put up, that catalysed us into action.

We fought. We fought for justice. We fought to tell them that silencing us is never the option; we have the right to be heard and justice needs to be meted out to you.

The nation saw an upsurge of protests as men and women fought hand in hand for your cause, so much so that the issue attracted the attention of the world in a never-before manner.

And yes,inevitably there were talks. There were people who asked whether the ‘Life of Pi’ was so important a movie for you to have gone watching late in the night. Someone raised a question on why you were out at night with a member of the opposite sex. Many blamed your parents for having sent you to the city to study, for having been over ambitious. Some criticised the dress you had worn. Ironically, they had never even seen you. Total strangers, blaming you for what wasn't your fault.

These were people who saw you as ‘just a woman’ ; who were being guided by the age-old principle of ‘woman behind the veil’, the shackles of which we have been trying to break for so long. They never knew you, they never understood why you lived and enjoyed life the way you did. They weren’t ready to acknowledge the fact that what happened to you could have happened to anyone, any time, anywhere. They could never understand why clearing your exams and securing the job was important to you and your family. They couldn’t accept or see reason in a counter-argument that if the way you dressed was a reason for the unfortunate incident, then why were and are the fully clothed old ladies or small girls seen as objects of desire !

You could never expect them to know all this.
For they all were, are and will be blind. With prejudice.

Jyoti, I can see why your parents named you so. When you were born, you brought light into their lives. And they knew you would bear the torch for them as they grew old.
But you have done much more than that. You have brought light into the lives of many women in the country, who now see you as an immortal inspiration.
Even as you struggled for life, you filled us all with a new passion to live fruitfully!
Your life has taught us that a woman’s life is not something to be crumbled by insensitive beings. It’s worth much more than that.
Your plight has helped us see the social viruses like sexual abuse, female feoticide, dowry deaths and of all, rapes, in a clearer , even though sinister, light.

You have given the other victims of rape, a hope and a reason to live. They now know that the  brutality they have survived is  no fault of theirs and that they aren’t guilty for what happened. They are now all the more keen on not letting this happen to anyone else. They have reinforced their strength, determination and the will to live life with passion.

You are indeed the true spirit.

When my daughter grows up, I shall tell you about her.
When she reaches an age that understands, I will tell her that womanhood is much beyond the few ounces of blood shed every month.
That womanhood is not mere sexuality.
It is about trying, flying and touching the sky.
That, being a woman means being the torch-bearer in all senses of the term – physical, emotional, spiritual.
That courage is not the absence of fear, but mastering it.

 Did anyone tell you that the perpetrators of the crime have been gifted the gallows ? That the noose is waiting for them ?

Yes, they have been sentenced to death. The nation is hailing this decision as true justice.

In one way, it is justice. For all the brutality they inflicted on you. For all the unspeakable, unthinkable things that you had to endure. For their being a shame on the society. For their having shocked the collective consciousness of the world at large.

But suffer, you did.
They would never be able to fathom the depth of it.
You are beyond comparison ! Beyond conquest !
Those who conquered your physical senses have done only ephemeral harm.
They can never destroy your soul.

It shall guide us in the years to come.

We respect you, Nirbhaya !!

The ME in Me.


  1. Sreeja you have written very soulful words to Jyoti. Your words are so gripping and full of emotions that I felt goosebumps in my stomach. Now that those brutes have been legally awarded penalty of 'hanging',Jyoti's soul must have got some solace in heaven.

    1. Usha Ma'm,
      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I was indeed emotional when I wrote this and am not sure whether I have captured the emotions fully in the post above. I hope Jyoti gets some solace in heaven, as you say.


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