Today morning. She was a girl of my age, my height, my built. She was going to office just like I was. She took the same road as I do. She was just another ordinary girl walking alone on the streets of Delhi’s largest sub-city – Dwarka. Just one difference – she was wearing a gold chain around her neck. I wasn’t.
She must have been some twenty steps behind me, which is why I didn’t notice her. I had almost approached my bus stop when I heard a woman shout. I immediately turned. What I saw was a matter of a few fleeting seconds…astounding in its audacity. Unbelievable in its sheer violence. I saw a man towering over a screeching girl. Beside them, I saw a scooter with another man in the driver’s seat. Both were wearing helmets. The girl seemed to be fighting with the man and shouting at the same time. In no time, the man slapped her face…right left and centre…then pushed her back. At that moment, what came in my mind was a series of incoherent words…
And then wait, did I see a gun? Yes I did. They were two pistol toting brutes against one single unarmed regular girl. My feet froze. Before anyone could make any sense of it, he was perched on the backseat of the scooter, and vroom…they went out of sight. It is only when the girl started rubbing her neck hysterically and shouting my chain my chain…did I realize that it was a case of not violence or vendetta, but chain snatching. I ran towards the girl. She had not suffered any major injuries. But the look that I saw in her face…I could not read or sleep in my bus journey today. And at work, I can’t concentrate. Her face comes alive. Hands trembling with fear. Eyes dilated with disbelief. Cheeks throbbing with horror. It was the look of a person who had just seen death. It was exactly the feeling that the criminals had wanted to plant – Terror.
I had heard chain snatching was common in Dwarka. But seeing is different from hearing. I actually witnessed the magnitude of lawlessness. How any random person can strike in your face in a busy morning. How he can snatch your chain, or mar your dignity, or may be even murder you…and you can do nothing but cry in horror or watch in disgust. In fact, as I figured later, the two men had not disappeared out of sight. They had gone straight, taken a U-turn, and then the main road for their escape. They might as well have pissed on the face of Delhi Police.
As I sat in my bus, I felt my blood boiling with anger. It was not the girl’s loss of a gold chain that bothered me. No. It was the psychology of fear that had enveloped me. The proven impotence of good against the bad. The abject helplessness of non-violence. I just sat in the bus rubbing my hands and gritting my teeth. I went over and over the scene…hoping that it had gone differently. I wanted to reverse the events of the day.
Alternative 1: Wanted that girl to punch the rogues in their face. Hit them in their gut, so that they never try that daredevilry on others.
Alternative 2: Imagined the girl (or myself) take out a stunner from our bags/ or even a laal mirchi powder, and throw it right into their eyes. I’d have been more than happy to blind them. Sometimes I’m driven to think, that the inhuman punishments that victims are dealt with in the Arab countries, like cutting hands for theft…are maybe right. Maybe they serve the purpose.
Alternative 3: Imagined myself charging at the attackers with a deafening roar. Imagined other on-lookers joining me in the act and the public beating those two criminals to pulp.
Alternative 4: Imagined the Delhi Police swinging into action…beating the thugs hands down, and returning the girl’s lost chain with a smile. And may be even a post script – with you, for you, always.
But life does not have an Undo button. And all I could do, was sit there, and drink my tears of impotence. What did she do to deserve this? Do people living in Dwarka not pay their taxes? Then why aren’t we protected? The constitution gives me a right to my body (remember habeas corpus?), then who are these bloody militants to snatch my rights from me? Why should I be made to shout for what’s my due? What are the Police waiting for? Murder/ rape/ massacre…what? Anyone who lives in Dwarka knows that this is not a one-off incident. Dwarka is a haven for criminals. Laptops are stolen from the hands of office-goers waiting outside their apartments for their cabs. Phones are stolen from women walking on roads or traveling in rickshaws. Cash is snatched from people stepping out of banks. Bags and suitcases are taken at gunpoint from people going to or returning from metro stations.
Just what kind of a society are we living in? Barbaric? Animal kingdom? Till when do we wait for law and order to restore? How many more to get robbed? How many more to get slapped and kicked? And WHY? Because our state is busy celebrating the oncoming sports festivals…because as people are getting humiliated on the streets of delhi, the sarkaar has busied itself with beautifying tiles and renovating monuments. What an intelligent allocation of resources. Marvellous.
Someone please explain to Ms Shiela Dikshit and others, that for common people like us, there’s much more to life than games.