For a Sordid Second

It pains me nothing more than to watch plight and sadness unfold in front of my very eyes as I watch, helpless and unable to react. My eyes well with bitter tears and sting when they drip down, like a quiet and saddened stream. An unmoving gag of silence nearly suffocates me as I desperately tug at it. Even with violent movements of blind rage, I fail to break out of the shackles of shock that hold me in place. The carnage and turmoil wreck havoc, even if just for a sordid second.
The despondent areas of my mind are tortured, mercilessly whipped and beaten, as are the values that timidly creep around in the corners of a dark day. The morals are squeezed from my consciousness, and the sickening bile of helplessness defiles the gentle, nectarous juices of goodness and purity. I watched as five well-built men beat up the petite, brunette-skinned woman and dragged her away. I watched in horror from the safety of the metal walls of the bus I was seated in that was waiting at a red light. It was this underlying shock, horror, and helplessness that tugged incessantly on my heartstrings. I was horrified – how were the people around me acting so nonchalant? A part of me was screaming at me, begging me to pelt those heartless men with cobblestones, as they did to her.
I hastily stood up and pushed my way towards the exit. It didn’t matter to me that I was on an unfamiliar road in Rajasthan. I had to help her. But the clammy hand of my guide tugged me back. “Madam, it is not worth it. They’ll do it to you too, if you dare intervene.” I jerked at my hand furiously, angry tears welling in my eyes, and shouted in Hindi,” Can’t you see what they’re doing to her? Those men are surely going to kill her!” But I was too late. I stopped struggling and watched the men drag the limp woman away. I stumbled back to my seat, and the bus lurched forward. My mind swelled fervently, my thoughts every shade of anger.
Thirty minutes passed since that dreaded incident. I stared at the viridescent countryside, numb and emotionless. I had incurred confused stares from the other passengers after my so-called ‘scene’, but I couldn’t care less. As the bus pulled to a stop outside the hotel I had booked, I was in a daze as I checked in to the hotel. I entered the room collapsed on the sprawling cerulean sheets, reminiscing the days’ events. I sat up and attempted to distract myself, scrolling through the news. The headlines made my heart sink. ‘Honour Killing in Rajasthan!’ ‘Young Girl Murdered by Family Members!’ ‘Battered Body of a Woman Found, Police Suspect Honour Killing’. I felt sick to my stomach as I set my phone down, and my bloodshot eyes brimmed once more as I stared blankly at a white wall. I couldn’t shake it off – couldn’t forget that execrable feeling. Narrow-minded men beating a strong-willed woman felt like a personal attack on my chastity. The devils of my consciousness were afraid of me. How ironic. I remembered every bit of it. I was blind to her broken dreams, deaf to her screams and unresponsive to her, please. I was ashamed. Ashamed for not trying harder. Ashamed at how helpless I was. A familiar sorrow clouded my mind once again – a thick fog brimming with sordid cries, desperate pleas, rivers of fear and misogynistic men. I could not see hope, nor goodness, nor genuine intentions, and it frightened me. The world, its dormant embers of cruel intentions and vicious sparks of hierarchy and ambition, shook me to my core. I sat there and revelled in the silence of my helplessness, my subconscious blinded by tears of hatred and regret. My thoughts, quiet as they were, chanted that the wrongdoings of one were his sins, but as I stood, a silent spectator, wasn’t I equally to blame? This realisation hit me like a ton of bricks and was my final breaking point. I curled into a ball, buried my head in my knees, and sobbed stentoriously as the walls of the room closed in on me, punishing me.
I made a vow that day. I vowed never to be silent again. I would survive the poisonous sheets of evil intentions, cut through the restraints of guilt, and tear the crumpled and yellowed papers of misogyny. I would stare at the sun and sing for all the women who, like her, lost their voices.

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