Photo Courtesy: HRLN Kerala Facebook Page
Chapter 1: Generating Spark
My arch enemies and best friends for life; ‘Heart and Brain’ as always fought each other a lot on the process of setting up a peaceful state to sit with a pen and paper, so it took me a while to write this down.
This tale is an introspection on all the events which revolve around and the way this weird culture of our nation influenced my perception.
“What’s the point of writing this down?”
“Who cares for your perception?”
“Why do you have to take this effort?”
A series of questions haunted me, but after all sorts of self interrogation I had come to a conclusion. All I wish to do is to narrate this story through my eyes, and I hope all those who read this will attain an insight so that you can be a part of this tale too; in fact you all are a part, directly or indirectly. Everybody can relate and empathize to this, based upon your personal experiences, all those pictures your eyes captured from different sites and stored in your memory, or metaphorically if I put this way; “A boat which moors at different shores, as it goes and goes through the river of life”.
I just want the reader to feel the heat of passion and aggression towards this world of unpredictability. As always I could have simply rested my body over the comfort of the cosy bed, but I decided to take some pain to get some gain. If a single person reckons his or her shoes are similar to mine then that’s all I needed from this effort which I devoted.
Let me swim into this allegory and project my perception by portraying few recent pages taken straight from the chapters of book called “Life”.
Chapter 2: Origin of Ember
Just like every other modern day youth, I was laying like a lazy cat on my bed with fingers clutched over my phone. It was sixth day after the commencement of vacation, and like most other days while I’m at home, this too was turning to be a vague and dry one. People of Kerala had turned berserk by the gruesome death of law student Jisha. Seven days had passed after the incident, but the culprit wasn’t seized yet. Government was indeed under immense pressure in this scenario. Media was also criticized a lot for not generating much publicity for this cause. And as always, the independent body of our nation, ‘The one which executes the law framed by the legislature’; Judiciary too felt the heat. The wide reach of social networks fired this up, propagated the news and thereby hatred and anger filled in the air. People used #JusticeForJisha in huge numbers to express their outrage towards the loathsome swine who raped her. One weird aspect was, unlike the famous Nirbhaya Case of 2012 which happened in the capital city, Jisha’s case didn’t evoke much national interest.
While I was swiping through the Facebook News Feed, a particular post poked my curiosity. It was posted by my senior who is a renowned figure of my department and university. He invited everyone to organise a peaceful protest demonstration at the ‘Abode of Peace’, Abhilash Park, CUSAT. This park was unofficially named after late Abhilash, a student of Department of Ship Technology, CUSAT. Adjacent to the park, there is a bus stop established in memory of him, thereby the park too was known by his name.
There is something special about this park. This place offers a tranquil and vibrant environment, maybe because of the fact this place is adorned with green and the nest of university girls nearby. Mainly this is a perfect hub for couples, but single birds too find their bliss out here. Anyways that’s not the point here, so I saw the post and decided to partake in the event because I felt it is imperative to join in this mass movement to bring about a much needed positive outcome.
As a sign of lamentation, I wore a black tee along with blue jeans. The event was scheduled at 4pm but I deliberately took a delay of over half an hour, because from one year experience I have attained the common sense that for CUSATians the actual time to commence any event is at least half an hour past the scheduled time. A delay is quite prevalent and when I reached there I wasn’t wrong this time too. I assumed that this meeting would be something excluded from the politics revolving around the campus, as there weren’t absolutely no political agendas or motives for a cause like this. My assumption wasn’t wrong though, I found many students of the university especially women who were new faces to me. They weren’t part of any political party, neither were they involved in the political scenario. Though seventy-odd CUSATians had gathered there, from a university of over 6000 students I expected quite a lot. One of the reason was for most of the departments it was either exams or vacation days, and most of the hostel inmates had left home. I sat under the tree for a while, admiring the serenity of this place. Weather was gloomy with an air of melancholy like the mood of the gathering.
After a while, the event started off. We all gathered around and the proceedings were initiated by the prominent leaders of the university. The gathering went on to become a platform for expressing the thoughts. One by one, those who gathered there spoke out their anguish over this unsafe society for women. Gradually the discussion slipped into a debate. Few female research scholars of the university even criticized men for their attitude and random acts towards women termed those as ‘petty ones’. They demanded men to alter their standpoint towards women and with a tone of request they asked to stop abusing or commenting girls in public places as they pointed out these are the small pieces of the puzzle which makes up an inclination upon the minds of men that women are inferior and weak. Further, they argued it’s the obligation of every men who possess an empathetic heart to be a shield over a woman’s soul and body. They asked men to remove their masquerade of congeniality, and stop raping her even in their thoughts.
Leaders who were addressing the event even tried to rebuttal by proposing their perspectives over the formation of a mum mindset of women existing in common.
“The responsibility behind carving up such a weak and suppressed soul in a woman lies within women only. From one’s mother to friends, always girls have been taught and advised to stay away from whatever unjust acts prevailing around them.” Main Leader indicated.
“I myself had indulged in acts of teasing and making comments over girls but most of the men do this for fun sake and with no other filthy intentions.” He continued.
“Be rebellious, counter the comments and oral abuse instantly. That will make them shut their mouths.” He ignited the fire in his feminine friends who had gathered out there.
“We fear the male chauvinistic ego! Hence we do not try to mess with all those people.” His arguments were disagreed by the females out there.
“What if they harm us?”
“How can we assure our safety?”
“Who will protect us?”
For a moment he was silenced by the veracity of their doubts. Then he spoke.
“Seek the assistance of your trusted male friends when you come across any such situations and I guarantee any sorts of help from my side.” He urged all the female buds of CUSAT.
After a while, a research scholar quite aged than the rest of the women gathered in the park came into the middle and asked a valid point especially towards the leaders out there.
“I’m not a person who does much public speaking, in fact this is the first time I’m addressing before a group because I felt now it is time to speak up against this brutality. All I got to ask is just one question, especially to you leaders,” She said, pointing her fingers to the leaders who were present there.
“Are we going to end with this?” She enquired to all.
“No it should not. If this ember doesn’t turn into a fire now, this won’t end any soon. Dark days for women will prevail forever. In 2012 Nirbhaya Case, JNU performed a great part to trigger a mass movement. Being the nearest and prominent university, CUSAT should play an integral part in erupting an army of youth. We should develop that friction on the prevailing system. Life should always be the prime aspect. There is no point in simply achieving many degrees and honors without owing a heart augmented with mercy and love. That’s what education is for, to sculpt ourselves into a better human being. We’ll be a part of this movement for that we are ready to bunk classes, actually there is no need to term this as a bunk. Even the university authorities will also support us for this cause,” She articulated with immense passion.
The leaders nodded as a gesture to acknowledge her statements, but didn’t respond much to that. I expected the leaders to activate a movement the very next day, to which all expressed their support by participating. With this expectation in my mind, I decided to partake in subsequent movements to achieve justice for Jisha.
The discussion concluded after a while with a closing note from one of my seniors from a different department. After that, a small march was organised, followed by sticking the posters on the fence of the park and finally all lit up the candles for the peace of Jisha’s soul. Amidst the breeze everyone joined to light the candles, fingers shielded the flames and we fixed the candles in the concrete median strip right in front of the Girls hostel.
That event struck my thoughts with a serious impact. I pondered on the vivid points uttered in the discussion. I was perplexed by some of them. Various interpretations mashed up in my brain. Many “whys” began to sprout in the chambers of my endless thoughts.
“Why do women feel so insecure?”
“Why are they seen only as an object to quench sexual desires?”
“Why are women considered as an epitome of weakness?”
“Why can’t we curb this evil forever?”
My conscience echoed something. I took a deep breath and tried to settle down to tune my ears to grasp those words.
“The answers lies within me! Wake up and look around you.” my inner voice repeated.
I was enlightened by those words with in a matter of seconds. I became the slave of my conscience. I decided to look around to find the answers, the origin of all the dark perceptions revolving over the life of a woman in India. Story of a nation which nurtures the “Embers of Evil”.
Read Part 2 of “Embers of Hope” here