There’s no closure for them

In the small room they call home, the family of the girl known as Delhi’s Brave heart is trying to come to terms with its loss. Already there is no evidence that she lived here only a month ago.

In the small room they call home, the family of the girl known as Delhi’s Braveheart is trying to come to terms with its loss. Already there is no evidence that she lived here only a month ago. Her books and clothes have been packed away, although her brother points to a physiotherapy textbook that somehow got left out. On the front cover, a name has been scribbled in pencil on the top corner. It’s a neat scrawl, as if unwilling to take up more than its necessary space. I can only wonder how a girl with such a big spirit could have had such a tiny handwriting.

The father, his face a stoic mask, doesn’t want to hear the old story repeated. But the mother recounts the events of that night of December 16, how the family began to worry when it began to get late, how they tried her mobile but couldn’t get through, the call that finally came from the police, the autorickshaw ride on a cold night to Safdarjung hospital, the sight of a girl, your girl, so frail on the bed. You don’t know yet what has happened. You don’t know yet the extent of her brutalisation, the iron rod, the man who sat across her chest yelling, “Mar saali.” You only touch her hand, her eyes open, she sees you and she begins to cry.

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Finally, the glass is half full

The things are changing: Gender issues are now a part of mainstream discourse.

Just over a month ago would you have imagined thousands, men as well as women, marching in protest against rape? Just over a month ago would you have imagined that an online petition could cancel a New Year concert by a hugely popular rapper who sings of his rape fantasies? Just over a month ago would you have imagined policemen in Noida getting suspended after refusing to take complaints of a missing woman seriously?

To those who say nothing has changed in just over a month since the 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped, tortured and thrown off a moving bus, consider this: perhaps finally the glass is half full. Continue reading “Finally, the glass is half full”

A tipping point for change

A terrible thing happened to a girl who was trying to get back home after a movie. To not respond or speak or rage or demand change would make us less than human.

How many went to bed that night with the same questions?

What kind of human does this to another?

How could they beat her so brutally?

How brazen to think they could get away with it?

Meanwhile, the younger of my teenage daughters wants to celebrate the end of her exams by going out with friends for dinner to the same mall where the previous night the 23-year-old student had gone to see Life of Pi (did she like it? Did she get a lump in her throat in the same parts that I did.

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Roosting place for pigeons

A memorial is not just about building the tallest, biggest, grandest statue.

On the day before his death anniversary, BSP head Mayawati was disrupting Parliament to press for a memorial to Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The government was scheduled to make an announcement at noon. “Why not now?” she asked as members of her party rushed to the well of the Rajya Sabha.

When the announcement came a few hours later to hand over 12.5 acres of the defunct Indu Mills in Mumbai’s Dadar, not far from Chaitya Bhumi where Ambedkar’s ashes are interred, Mayawati was not impressed. “For a grand memorial,” she scoffed, “at least 30-40 acres of land would be required.” Continue reading “Roosting place for pigeons”

He has had the last laugh

In death, people have ceased to be objective about late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

The life-size effigies strung up on lamp-posts were terrifying – at least to a child. In the late sixties/early seventies, they symbolised the South Indians who the Shiv Sena was determined to drive out of Bombay, as the city was then called. It was a sight designed to intimidate.

Forty-odd years later, intimidation remains the party’s chief weapon. Over the years, the ‘enemy’ has changed, from South Indians to Muslims to Biharis, but the tactics remain the same.

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