Nazima Parray

White color among all the colors has always been a favorite of ‘Saba’. To her this color was a symbol of pure and serene love. This summer mornings were not the usual mornings. These morning breezes were filled with strange smell of death that had just visited her neighborhood. Death is an unwanted guest for everyone but unwillingly one has to welcome it, but death in this form is barbaric and heart wrenching. This time a mother has lost her only hope by the hands of unwanted visitors to Saba’s motherland who claim their ownership on this land. These visitors have changed the identity of her son and have given him the name of a ‘stone-pelter’ and killed with this name.  To her mother his name was ‘suhail’ and the essence of his innocent blood is still afresh on her perforated soul. Little did Saba know that these visitors were destined to change her world too? With suhail’s death, tagged with the new name of ‘Stone pelter’, the killers did get the impunity under law while his family sank into the everlasting and unending pain. He was not alone and his mother was not the only sobbing character under the shade of the gun yielding new members of her neighborhood. There were other sisters, brothers, fathers and spouses crying and wailing for the ones they lost to the trigger happy lot. The gloom in the air and the frown on everybody’s face was not just an outcome of deaths taking place day in and day out but the fear of death and destruction, fear of desecration of honor of mothers, sisters and daughters and the fear of losing the identity.

Saba, dressed in her white school uniform reluctantly left for the school. She left the home saying goodbye to her mother with a promise to return early since Saba had to accompany her mother to buy new white dress which she was going to wear at her uncle’s wedding. She was excited to visit the market with her mother in the evening and enjoyed the discussion about cloths and new fashion trends in the market with her friends. The dabbed giggles of the girls in the school were the only remnant of old pristine glory of the place they lived in. The precincts of the school were, believingly, the only safe domains for these innocent girls where they could be just themselves. Saba discussed the new style of hair tail her mother had taught her to bind, the color of her new nail paint she wanted to wear on the upcoming marriage party and all the mundane matters that matter most amongst the little innocent girls. The closing bells rang and all the girls jumped off the desks and rushed through the doors. Saba, excited with the prospects of visiting the market with her mother too closed her school bag, hung it on the shoulder and hurried herself to the deserted road leading to her house.

Walking along the road, preoccupied with her thoughts weaving hundreds of dreams for her future in her eyes with  the promise to reunite with her family on the back of her mind, Saba, would have never thought her promise of reaching home early would remain unfulfilled. This time there was no stone pelting, no protest, nothing that would engage the uniformed men standing across the streets. The idle uniformed unknown visitors, this time over caught Saba who was lost in her thoughts. A sudden jerk from behind swept her off her feet and eventually off her innocence. These men, with horrifying instincts, took her to some unknown place. They blindfolded her, snatched her bag, threw it off and brutally tore her white uniform into shreds. Horrified Saba was unable to understand what was happening, she was not able to retaliate, she was too meek to resist but her soul was too strong to surrender. She struggled with vain punches and kicks but she was too fragile to give in. These unknown visitors, while talking to each other and deciding who was going to be the first to get the privilege of tearing her chastity, were calling each other with the words like, ‘come visit the heaven’. ‘Heaven’, what heaven are they talking about. ‘Ma’, always used to say only good people goes to heaven but these people don’t seem good at all. They have almost killed me with the weight of their bodies. They are giving me unending pain how come they will visit heaven. Why are they laughing at me? Can’t they see my agony’? Are they not listening to my cries? Please give me my white uniform back, she cried. I have never been nude, not even in front of my mother who gave me birth was what revolved her thoughts that occupied her pleasant dreams some time back. My ribs are broken now so is my soul, she rued while she breathed with difficulty. Please don’t click my pictures, how they are going to entertain you during nights, she would wordlessly convey with her eyes. One after other repeating the same process, process of pain and agony, process of torture and misery. Saba was dying, didn’t need anything just a cup of water. But the water that slipped from her eyes reached her lips was not the water her mother would give her. The taste of this water was salty and warm, this water was the water that oozed out with the grind of her soul, this exuded from her red eyes that watched her body being torn apart, being battered, thrashed with sickening throbs and the soul drenched with the dirty fluid. You have killed me now please let me go I want to see my mother one last time, she pleaded.

Under the open sky and at some distant dark place they left her all alone, alone in the darkness of her dreams, darkness of her future, darkness of her lifeless drained out white flesh, darkness of her sunken eyes and darkness of her parents esteem. Saba, unable to get up and half dead, lying unconscious on the ground, woke up by the first rain drop that touched her nude body. Her white uniform stained with blood and all torn up. Blood of her innocence, blood of her mother’s dreams, blood of her father’s dignity and above all the blood of her virgin body. The stain of this blood on the same white cloth could have given her a new identity of being a good wife had it been out of her nuptial tie. The same white colored dress would have made her the most beautiful bride on earth. These unknown and unwanted brutes snatched everything from her and from her family. These unknown visitors gave her a new life with unending pain and the all new identity of being called RAPE VICTIM.

Saba was an ordinary rape victim, she was the victim of collateral damage, she was the victim where the perpetrators enjoy impunity, she was the victim where her destroyers would be awarded and honored with medals. Saba was just one amongst the thousands whose muzzled voice would not pass beyond the ears of her family, neighbors and the society she would live in. She was no ‘Nirbaya’ for whom thousands of candles would be lit on the streets and for whom the country would mourn. She was an ordinary girl who was destined to be the matter of consumption for the lewd fantasies of her so called protectors of motherland.

When Saba was carried to her home by some passersby who spotted her lying semiconscious on the edge of the road, she did not cry. Her haggard hair, her bruised body and her arms wound up hiding her chest was enough to convey her plight to her mother who ran down the front stairs of her house on seeing her daughter limping inside the compound. Her mother wrapped her body with the dupatta, the dupatta that had never slipped her hair all through the life. No one had ever seen a streak of her hair till this date except for her husband. But today she could feel the nakedness of her body in her child who had been devastated and there was no importance of covering her hair when her honor was splattered into the murky drain. She embraced Saba and frantically shook her, pleading to narrate the happenings to her. But Saba had turned into the stone, she had matured, as if, with the flip of a page. In just few hours the cruel events had transformed her into a silent matured lady from an innocent school girl. Saba, in few moments had become a rape victim, a girl who was not worth attending the marriage party, the girl who cannot go to the market with her mother to buy the latest fashion clothes, the girl who cannot apply her favorite nail paint, the girl who would not get a life partner, the girl who would not go to attend the regular school and would not be sitting and giggling with her friends in the school. The smile, the essence of life, the fragrance of youth, the dreams of lovely future, the dreams of having a loving husband and children vanished in the thin air. Saba lost her life like her neighbour Wamiq did. Wamiq though got the sympathies of the people living around him, Saba was not even lucky to get that. Wamiq would be remembered at least as a ‘stone pelter’, Saba would be cursed as a ‘rape victim’. Wamiq was laid to rest with thousands carrying his body to grave; Saba has not even the grave to carry her.

NOTE-The writeup is a piece of fiction.