I was 15.
It was early evening.
Maybe 5 – maybe 6.
That time of day when you don’t really know if the sun is rising or setting
Unless you look at your wristwatch.
I was on my TVS scooty on my way to Biology tuitions.
Where we studied life and such.
I was about to experience it firsthand.
An unsolicited practical.
I took a turn into a lane.
There was a mob of men.
And that funny age when you don’t know if you are young or old.
They spread out across the road like a giant organism
I stopped. I had to.
They came forward.
They pulled me off my vehicle.
They looked menacing.
They had something in their hands.
They rubbed something on my face.
They were screaming something.
They were reeking of something.
They touched me.
Maybe five men
Maybe ten men
Or did I imagine it all?
In the middle of the street.
I remember my eyes burning.
I remember crying.
I remember touching my face and thinking I am bleeding.
And yet I saw everyone was smiling.
Some even laughed.
Then they left.
Just like they arrived.
Was it 10 min ?
Was it 1 hour ?
I don’t remember.
I remember running.
I remember howling.
I remember a palatial house
I remember barging in
I remember curling up on a stranger’s sofa and crying like a baby.
No not a baby.
A baby has no real sense of loss.
I cried like someone who has had something precious – something irreplaceable snatched from them.
I remember a kind faced lady
I remember a glass of water
I remember a soothing voice.
Then I left.
Was it 10 min?
Was it 1 hour?
I don’t remember.
That lane was not lonely. It was a busy road beside a very prominent college.
It wasn’t late at night. It was evening. Before dark.
I wasn’t wearing a mini skirt. I was in full length baggy jeans and an oversized t-shirt.
I wasn’t a sexy looking woman. I was a skinny gangly teenager.
Those men were not menacing. They were celebrating.
That was not blood on my face. It was my tears mixed with the crimson powder they had rubbed into my eyes.
They weren’t screaming in rage.
They were screaming Ganpati Bappa Morya
It is that time of the year again.
It is 2 decades later.
The beasts are on the road again.
They have forgotten me.
A 15 year old remembers.