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Thursday, September 24, 2020

A letter to my niece


PUJA AWASTHI | Lucknow, December 22, 2012 13:35
Tags : Delhi gang rape | Crime against women | Women security |

Darling P,

I never imagined saying this, but how I wish you had not come into this world.

As you show me every time I ask you, I love you more than the space I can hold in my outstretched arms. I loved you from the moment your mother told me that you would come to us, many months before I first saw your perfect pink face. You are not of me, yet you are my proudest achievement. At any given moment, I would rather be with you than with anyone else. And my world is new and perfect, every single time you wrap your arms around my neck.

Yet, today I wish you had not chosen to come to us.

Not chosen this world where six men can brutally beat and rape a 23 year old and leave her with injuries so ugly that they even shock doctors.

Not chosen this world where bystanders will laugh and take pictures of a 17-year-old being molested by a repulsive mob.

Not chosen this world where a nameless two year old can be given a fractured skull, broken ribs, and bite marks all over her body, after her mother falls to a trafficking racket.

You should not have chosen this world, because we cannot promise you that very little you need to grow up fully and fearlessly-- a world where you will be safe and protected.

We might strive to—but those efforts will be made insignificant by the momentous wrongs that rule our world.

You are not yet four, but every time I bathe you, I tell you what body parts you must never allow anyone to touch. I surround myself with an invisible wall every time we are out in a public space. I do not allow men to hold you, no matter how well I know them and I cannot help dissecting every male look that comes your way.

As you grow older, I will make you shamefully conscious of your body. I will force you to sit a certain way and bow to a particular code of dress. I will coach you to mind your thoughts and exercise greater caution in your words. I will vet your moves and spy on your thoughts.

I will teach you not to trust strangers and think of all men as deceitful till they prove themselves otherwise. If you choose not to tread the beaten path, I will hedge your paths. I will burden your thoughts and hinder your moves.

I, who so adores your free spirit, will cage you.

I will tell you that I do it out of love. Truth is, I will do it out of fear.

I will do it because my family, my friends, my neighbours, my government and my police will be powerless when faced with criminals, rapists, molesters and murderers. I will do it, because the laws of my country will offer many escape routes, over a tedious process. I will do it because my activist fiends will rise in anger only when it is too late. I will do it because justice will take so long in coming that it will hold no meaning.

I will do it because it was done to me.

You will never realise fully all the brilliant promise and potential I glimpse in you, because I will not let you, because the world will not give me the confidence to let you.

You will always live in the shadow of what is and what could have been.

I will teach you to live with the fears that I do.

I never imagined saying this, but how I wish you had not chosen this world.

It is neither worthy nor ready for you.

With much love and greater regrets,

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017