He was waiting for his quarry. He was standing beside a lamppost, dimly lit up as the sodium lamp was just beginning to warm up. Only the glow of a dangling cigarette revealed where he was standing. Half a kilometer ahead was the main junction, and there were always some unwary people who would take this route to the metro station, one kilometer from where he was standing. Occasionally he had seen some transgender and call girls soliciting customers. This pedestrian walk was adjacent to the boundary of a thickly wooded military property. And for a reason unknown to him was usually avoided by the people. The footpath on the opposite side of the main road was teeming with office goers who were in a typical hurry to return home. He had chosen this location well. Sometime back, he had dared to jump the wall into the military compound, found a path leading to a rickety gate which he could climb over quickly, and he was in another lane leading up to the main road within a walking 10-minute distance. He had noticed the signage announcing military property, no thoroughfare, and people usually avoided walking into this lane. Unlike the police, the military was given its due respect by the public at large. He was hungry, angry at himself as his finances were running short, and he needed to rob someone desperately. There were other locations in the city where he would hunt his quarry, and his pattern of hunting was such it leaves a significant time gap between two hunts for the public to forget and police to stop their search. What with, the forever expanding city that teemed with a population of over 10 million and severely understaffed police, how could anybody with elementary sense think such petty crimes as bag snatching get prevented?
As soon as she entered the footpath, she noticed the cigarette glow. Her senses were tingling, and she had a mind to crossover to the other side. But then she thought she had completed her first level of self-defense training. Her training got done under the watchful tutelage of the sincere couple Shiva and Sakti at The Women's Self-defence Institute. With both of them, she had practiced some smart maneuvers for self-defense during mock street attacks and closed spaces. Here was an opportunity to practice in a real setting. She evoked the particular mantra of Muruga, the warrior god, took a deep breath and decided to tackle the situation. As a precautionary measure, she had slipped the pepper spray on to the right pocket of her jeans. She continued her walk while pretending to be talking on her mobile phone. Her senses were alert, and adrenalin had started flowing.
Her name was Nikita, and she had completed 21 recently and worked for a travel company after completing a Bachelor's vocational course on travel and tourism. She did not have an academic bent of mind, and she enjoyed the professional course, which had lots of practical than studies and finished one among the top three in her class. Further, she enjoyed traveling, but, in this job, she only was arranging for other people to visit. She felt her time would come soon. This route was not her usual one as she had come to see off her friend and felt like a short walk to the next metro station.
He, too, had noticed her and slipped the blade to this right hand. The 3- inch blade was sharp, and he had honed his moves well months together. He could slice through leather, synthetics, jute rope as if he was slicing a ripe banana. Typically, ladies' bags got made with such material, and he was confident of yet another reward tonight. He had his ethics; he used the blade only to slice at the bags of his quarries, never to injure his victim. His plan tonight was to cut the sling, rob the bag, jump over to the military compound, and escape through the rickety gate. He hoped that his quarry was carrying stuff of value.
Nikita had walked ahead as if she had not noticed him but fully alert. As the distance between them narrowed to 2-3 meters or so, she saw him making his move. From the corner of her eyes, noticed that he had whipped open the blade and lunged at her hoping to slice the sling bag. She had anticipated this move, and she feigned her fall, a well-rehearsed step with Shiva, as the assailant. Having not expected this from his quarry, the momentum of his lunge carried him forward, made him lose his balance, and he fell on the ground. She had used the energy of her faked fall to flip back to a fully erect position, took two steps forward, leapt high and landed with her legs on the back of his knees with full force. He screamed in pain, rolled on his back, and in a reflex action, turned his face towards her. She whipped out the pepper spray gun and directed it towards his exposed eyes. She had then sprinted towards the metro station. She ran and ran, and the sound of his agonizing scream soon died out.
The moment the spray hit his eyes, he felt a never before burning sensation in his eyes, then in his nose and mouth too. He felt blindness in his eyes and screamed and screamed his heart out.
She reached the metro station in a tizzy. Once she felt a bit safe amid the passengers, took some deep breaths, had a sip of water, and reviewed the incident over in her mind. She was sure that he could not have seen her face as she could not remember any feature of her assailant. She noted with relief her train was due in another 3 minutes and, for the first time, a surge of confidence powered through her body.
As she got into her train, her mind got flooded with thoughts. It was some two years ago that the entire nation was shocked by what was now famously known as the "nirbhaya" episode. A young girl got brutally raped and murdered, and her male friend was severely injured. Her dad had been suggesting acquiring some self- defense skills. He was often fond of repeating that cooking, swimming, self-defense, and information technology as essential life skills in this modern world to survive. Her parents were not much worried about her education as long she enjoyed what she did. It was after a few months since she had joined this vocational course, she informed her parents that she indeed enjoyed doing this course. Her dad had commented as much that this was the first time he had ever heard her mention good things about her studies. Soon after the nirbahya episode, she and her friends enrolled for a 35-hr self-defense course that her college had arranged. Her dad was not satisfied, and at his insistence, she had found the nearby institute of self-defense and completed her first level recently and quite well. She was fond of the couple Shiva and Sakti and vice versa.
Having completed her first level self-defense, her confidence, and her parents' confidence in her had increased. However, her dad always reminded her to stay alert and act responsibly. Her parents hugged her when they heard the episode from her later that night, and she saw pride in their faces. Shiva and Sakti offered her to enroll her for the second level free of cost as her experience was inspirational, and they felt proud to share her expertise in anonymity.
Unknown to Nikita and her assailant, the newly installed camera fixed at the lamppost had captured the entire incident. The police officer who reviewed the event could not identify the assailant or the women in the picture, as all she could see was a silhouette. All the same, she had put up the video in social media as she was impressed by the girl's defense. Instantly the episode became viral.
Social media reported a surge in the enrolment of women for self-defense courses all over the world. Pepper sprayers got sold out online and offline shops. Durga had arrived.