The story of a widow who single-handedly fights the rigid and unreasonable beliefs of the society – and like most who do that, pays the cost for it.
You can read the first part of the story here: Episode 1: I Am A Widow And I Don’t Want To Wear White
One day, when I was walking out to buy groceries, a group of young men whistled at me. For them I was an alone defenceless woman with no one to care for. They also assumed that I was shameless and had no character since I didn’t behave like a widow. They continued doing this almost every time when I passed through that particular street. I tried changing my time of going but they were always there – they didn’t have any work to do but sit there, drink tea and smoke.
Their whistling changed to singing lewd songs and making obscene gestures. I ignored them. I thought they were naive and I couldn’t do anything to stop them. I had started thinking that I was indeed helpless. I began underestimating myself and began wondering if I should stop going out of the house because of their fear.
I did exactly that. For a week I didn’t step out of the house or pass through that street. But to my utter dismay, in the end of the first week of my self-confinement, they had changed their ‘adda’ and moved to a pan shop barely 50m from my house!
That night when Sudha came over to check on me thinking that I was ill I told her about the Eve-teasing and that I was afraid that something would happen to me. I told her I couldn’t sleep at night and I could barely eat. The stories of women being raped in our village kept echoing in my mind. On hearing me, Sudha broke down. She went on saying that I should move to a different village and get re-married to a man who could protect me. I was silent. How could I leave my house, my land and my birthplace and run? But what else would I do?
I didn’t sleep until the wee hours of the morning that night. To distract my mind and to get some sleep, I began reading a book that talked about the history of the Indian freedom struggle and the role that women played in it. That book somehow gave me an assurance, a support that I was longing for. I slept around 5 in the morning, tired yet strong.
At around 11 in the morning, there was a knock on my door. The person outside must have been knocking for a while because the knocking grew louder. The only person who visited me ever was Sudha but she would never come at this hour. I thought that maybe there is some emergency. So I rushed out of bed to open the door. I wish I hadn’t.
Two men, stinking of tobacco and supari were standing at my door. They were the same men who had eve-teased me! My heart stopped. They were smiling slyly at me. I froze in fear. I saw that at some distance from those men, the other three were standing to alert them should anyone come my way.
The men at my door were staring at my creased clothes and dishevelled hair. I felt like they were raping me through their eyes. Then one of them took out a 100 rupee note from their pocket and offered it to me saying, “We know you need money. We’ll give you what you want and you give us what we want…” he laughed and said. He took one step closer towards me. I screamed, “I am not a whore! Go away!” I tried to push the door shut but they were quicker than me and in a few seconds both of them were inside my house with a bolted door behind.
The first one, who looked around 20-22 years of age, “We will take what we want. Who are you going to tell anyway? Your late husband?” They began laughing at my plight. My vision fogged, my eyes filled with tears.
This was it. My life was going to end. I thought of committing suicide because I knew they were going to rape me.
The younger one, barely 18 years of age, put his hand on shoulder. The minute he did that – I screamed out loudly and bit his hand till it bled. I slapped his cheek in such force that he fell on the floor. The elder one grabbed my arm and slapped me across my face and pushed me on the floor behind cursing me. But I was not afraid – something inside me had awakened and that something was the feeling that I could protect myself!
The next ten seconds went very quickly. On my right, under my bed was an old hammer that my husband used around the house to do menial work. I grabbed the hammer and hit the beast on top of me on the head. He began bleeding and fell on the floor. The younger one who was already standing barged towards me and I hit him on his leg, he fell as well.
Both of them were groaning in pain which gave me my chance to escape. I ran straight to the village headman’s home and narrated the incident. The first thing he did was send help for those people at my house. The second thing was done by his wife. She came out and slapped me saying that she knew what my character was and that I must have lured those ‘kids’ into my house and I was wrongly accusing them.
You want to know what I did? I laughed. I laughed hysterically. I felt foolish to expect justice from them. Because of that laughter, they sent me to a mental institution miles away from the village.
Today, I am writing this story after a good human being let me go from the mental institution and asked me to seek help from an NGO. Which I did. I sold my house – I sold those memories and left that village forever.
Now, I am in Vrindavan, helping the widows who are just like myself – hysterically laughing because they refused to mourn.
This is a work of fiction, loosely based on multiple true events.