Saturday, April 11, 2015

'Coz one Abia is more than enough

2015
Surprisingly Meira reached office before time. She had spare 10 minutes with her before the day consumed them all. So she thought of taking the stairs. Five flight of stairs but worth ascending. Fair share of exercise in the day.
When she reached her desk, she still had a couple of minutes. The place was largely vacant. Must be because of the traffic.
Karthik sir was already working on his computer. Engrossed. When she greeted him, he replied in a somber manner. Minus his convivial charm. He immediately went back to work and Meira understood he was not in a mood to talk.
As she settled into the day, the morning became a blur. If she were to sit down and reflect now, she would be surprised if she could remember what she had had for breakfast. But thankfully, the horrible taste of sandwich was still glued to her throat. She was not retarded yet.
When she did catch her breath and took a couple of minutes off from her work, she went through the stream of her what’s app messages. Replying to some, sharing others.
It is then that Karthik sir asked her if she could help him. The restrain in his voice tensed her. This was not his usual way. He wanted to discuss about a girl his son knew.
She relaxed a bit. Her office people usually approached her. To discuss career choices. Education tips. This was usual. Her turf.
But when he shared what he shared, she was numb.
It was not the usual run of mill career query.
The girl in discussion needed help. Real help. From somebody who had dealt such sensitive issues. Meira was not that adept.
But because of her work profile she had heard such complaints.
Rare. Occasional. But existing all the same.
Had it been workplace harassment, Meira would have doled out all the relevant steps to be taken.
But this was pure blatant harassment. At workplace. Outside workplace. At social media. On roads. In her commute.
Days and nights of fear and anguish.
The girl was acquaintances with a boy. She never realized that just being friends with a boy would turn into a dreaded nightmare. The guy troubled her at her workplace. She shifted job. He followed. Even got shunted from the place. But still pursued. Stalked. Called. Maligned her on social media. Maligned her everyday living. Her police complaint lay somewhere in the heaps of file.
Meira was listening but not listening. She was back in her college.
2005
Meira found the door of her bestie, Abia’s room ajar. At 2 in the night. She called out. The lights were off and there was not a sound in the room. Warily, she walked in and switched on the light by memory.  Abia was sleeping. The covers were not drawn. The bed was not made. The phone lay by her side. It seemed like she had been talking when she had fallen asleep. Meira proceeded to remove her specs and make her comfortable when Abia woke up. She was running a high fever. She hugged Meira and started crying inconsolably. And between the sobs told her that some people from her batch had made fake mail ids by her name and mailed objectionable pictures and photographs to entire class. She did not know what to do. Poor little Abia. She cried her heart, took a paracetamol and by the morning was ready to face the day and the class.
The other day Abia had forgotten her umbrella in the class. Meira and Abia walked back to the class room and retrieved it. They were in time. Only to find the words “Darling Abia” scribbled on the folds. Abia complained to the class prefect and that was it. He did not know who had done it. Abia washed the umbrella till her hands ached.
And who would forget the day when the “Darling Abia” made it to the blackboard. She was still dusting the words when the teacher had walked in.
Then followed the class notice boards and tables and what not. The messages getting dirtier and graphic each day.
The worst was when they made the fake account on social media. Meira would sit with Abia every night and together they would tell people not to join the invite, would read all the abuses and indecent remarks left on the wall helplessly. Then they would discuss how wrong it was and how it was such a deterrence, being girls in the society. And then silence would fall in the room and Abia would leave. What else could she do?
Yes, it was nothing major. All college pranks. But intimidating enough.
Abia became reclusive and drowned herself in world of books. Could she be blamed when she was the happiest to leave college and move on. Abia was the first to pack her bags.
Ragging. Bullying. Harassing. Whatever it was, it was over.
2015
The girl is planning to leave her job. She is disheartened enough. We fear she might take some extreme steps, Karthik sir was telling her.
Meira came back to the present.
One would think that times had changed. The deterrence had now become a strength. Audacious and intrepid, that is being girls.
Her mind was reeling. Was it over? Would it ever be over? Had anything changed? Would anything change?
Men/boys are still what they were. And deterrence, being girls still is one.
Meira gave Karthik sir a women commission’s helpline number. That sounded so insufficient even to herself. But she knew there were forums now that would help. Platforms that were not available in their times, And with that confidence she returned to the pending matters on her desk.
She could not help but think that only this morning, she had been smiling at the College Boys only scribbled on unreserved seats in the local bus. A smile she immediately regretted.
She prayed fervently that the girl would be helped.
She prayed there would not be any more Abia's in her list.
She prayed for every girl out there to be safe and secure.

7 comments:

  1. Just stopping by from the A to Z challenge. Are you still taking part?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tamara for stopping by.
      I am afraid I have not been able to keep up with the challenge this season

      Delete
  2. Just stopping by from the A to Z challenge. Are you still taking part?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. I love hearing from you Kani ... thank you for such encouraging words .. Keep visiting

      Delete

Since every thought is a seed, I am looking forward to a delicious harvest.