Fifty years forward
Fifty years forward10 mins 115 10 mins 115
“Dear, are you ready? It’s getting late for the moon shuttle. We gotta leave now,” Anjali said to her daughter Nina, who is fifteen years old.
“Mom, don’t hurry up, we still have five hours for the reception to begin. The journey hardly takes three hours,” Nina looked at her worried mother.
She wore a brown sweatshirt on top of a white round-neck T-shirt, something a good combination to cheer. She pampered a snoozy little tiger (a hybrid robot – you can’t differentiate this from the real one).
“I told you not to wear that ripped blue shorts to the reception,” her mother said rapidly. Not looking easy though. She was getting prepared for her only second space travel. But her daughter had gone many times along with her father, who frequently did business trips to the various planets. It was still debatable if he really had gone to the other Milky Way (Andromeda galaxy?) to see an Earth-like planet out there. The geoscientists have already found five new mega galaxies 40 billion light-years away and have found lives. They even sent a manned spacecraft to the Triangulum galaxy and were literally surprised when they came across such a beautiful Earth-like planet (call it Earth B). In fact, it is even bigger in size and natural resources. There is plenty of water, and the sun shone brilliantly to portray the beauty of the Earth B. But the only question that still bamboozled the scientists was why nobody living there? Was it purposely made by God that people who live in our Milky Way have to be shifted there? When the astronaut Robert Feijen dropped on Earth B, he didn’t like to put the oxygen backpack on seeing such a cool breezy air, and astounding and vivacious sea. Such clean water he had never seen in his life. I’m ready to die, if that’s what God’s will, Feijen thought and removed the oxygen supplying backpack and looked at the sky, what a miracle, he felt like he was in paradise. Maybe this is the place where people will come after their death for doing good deeds. He doesn’t want to think philosophically much about it. He wanted to just enjoy this mind-blowing experience completely. It was a history-making moment. The scientists in the control room were frightened when Feijen removed his spacesuit, but after seeing the exuberant joy in his face, they took a deep breath. Their tension creased faces suddenly got freshened up as if a mother heard her son is alive after a serious collision. Life always comes up with loads of surprises even though we sometimes not ready to accept them. You gotta believe that the life force is bigger than whatever in our minds. Such mentality will take us through various places we have never imagined or never dare to imagine. We simply have to accept that some good things are happening in front of us, and don’t have to screw up everything. Feijen was getting soaked in this huge moment.
“Mom, you don’t fear about me. We are not living in 2019 when there was no safety for the women. Hundred rape incidents were happening daily. That was really horrible you know,” Nina said, came close to her mother and looked at her eyes as if she read her hidden fear and continued, “Mom, we are living in 2070, got that? I mean, there is not a single rape case registered for the past fifteen years. And the word ‘rape’ is going to be removed from the dictionary in a month as directed by the supreme court of India. Just like how the Polio disease was completely removed from our country. Things are happening fast. You gotta believe it, mom. You should stop caring for me always. I’m not talking about equality or other stupidity. I’m talking about the facts. The facts that make you happy and give chills, you know what that means? This is what makes me proud of this country.”
Anjali still didn’t want to heed her daughter’s words. She wasn’t ready to believe it. Her heart was beating fast to accept this truth. Because she had a strong reason to shed tears and ask her daughter to stay safe. This incident had happened not long after her parents announced that her daughter became a big woman to the villagers. As you know, this was our tradition to publicize that our daughter got the first period and it has to be celebrated by others who were close to our family and the people who are living in our locality. Also, this was a proud moment for the parents that their daughter is getting ready for something cheerful, something valuable, and something more than what they could ask for. Anjali didn’t have much awareness of what was happening around her and why people are gathering to see her. She felt shy, she was a shy person really, and you could imagine how she would have felt. When she was in the classroom, her computer science madam asked her to do design a commercial website using C#. Before Anjali was ready to show her piece of art, her stomach started spinning and twisting and gnawing, suddenly she was bleeding there. Oh God, this was such an awkward moment for her. Can’t we have a simple solution to it? Apparently, the madam heard from Anjali and asked her to leave the school immediately. When her mother heard this news, her happiness doubled. Why not? After all, she was expecting it to happen from her seventh standard. But God put this on hold until she turned eighteen years, what magic that was. She even got ready to vote for her favorite political party.
Anjali too threw an exciting face when the local ladies applied turmeric on her face and did arathi after that. The guys, who have been chasing for her cuteness, got pumped up after hearing such sweet news. They got charged and blew crackers on the street to let know this news to everyone who just came across it. It was like the blast of bombs and in a few seconds, the people living in other villages also knew that something special happened. That night she had such an adoring sleep, swam in the heaviness of lofty dreams about her new life. She was looking forward to going to school the next week with a steady head and not crouching back as she did earlier. But if only she knew what was going to happen today, she would have never asked or desired for being a complete woman. You know what it means, right?
Her friends bid bye and she started walking to her home alone, it was just three kilometers away, but she had to walk through the farmland because her bicycle tire punctured in the morning and she pulled it to repair shop close to her home. It was the first puncture since she had bought this bicycle a year before. But she was happy to walk through this wonderful village, everywhere looked greenery, on the left side the banana trees and on the right, the vastness of paddy fields overwhelmed her. A minute she waited and wanted to snatch the ripened banana cluster and eat it. She threw a childish glee when she walked down to pluck a yellow banana. Before she could pluck it, someone had snatched her hand. It wasn’t a forceful attempt, but a soft touch. First, she thought some kid did, but it wasn’t.
“Hello,” a brisk voice welcomed her.
She wasn’t familiar with this tone. But it didn’t make her feel anxious, because she had been living in this village from her childhood and she had never worried about her safety. She always felt she was surrounded by good people. But Anjali, you forgot the fact that where the fishes live the crocodiles also stay there, you gotta be careful always.
“Who is this?” Anjali said, turning to see who touched her. The person who touched her can’t be seen now.
“We are your friends, dear,” this time three or four voices came together.
Anjali thought someone near to her was playing hide and seek with her. She still threw a happy face and wanted to know who was talking to her. In fact, she was trying to climb the banana cluster to chew it. But she had to be a little taller to get it one shot.
“I can help you,” four guys wheeled around her this time. A grizzly dark person plucked one banana and handed it to her, “eat it, my dear. Eat it. It will taste so good. You never wanted to go back after that.” The other guy, who wore white baniyan and black pants said in a double tone. Their voice modulation swung high and low, like their deepest haggard emotions.
“Thanks,” Anjali said and took it and started walking away, but the third guy pulled her hairdo from the back, “such a charming girl should never go without giving us much thrill. I mean….”
All the fucking guys started laughing.
Anjali now realized there is something wrong with these guys. She had never seen them before, but there was a hazy feeling that she had seen that grizzly dark person somewhere in the Thulukanathamman temple festival in another village.
“Hey, what are you talking about? Leave me alone. I have to go home now,” Anjali said upfront. Her feet hastened to get out of this place. For the first time, she understood why people always talk about women’s safety.
The fourth guy, who wore a red band on his head, tapped on her buttocks. She almost exploded now.
“You fucking maggots. Don’t you know how to behave with girls,” Anjali criticized them. But her staunch response didn’t let them stay away. The bastards waiting to loot all that she had. The insanity of attacking a woman in a cowardly fashion. A coward is not a person who didn’t have the valor to fight. A real coward is he who tore the woman’s spirit when she held high faith in him and took pleasure when she cried. That too dealing with a woman in an outrageous way along with his fucking friends. Such offense shouldn’t be forgiven. Taking a woman for granted, as if entering into temple and removing the sacred garbagraham.
They took her not to the motor room, but the banana field, and openly did whatever they wanted. They hit hard wherever they could to take pleasure. At the end of two hours battle which was worse than the war, she lost all the faith. She felt all the boys were horrible; all the people are thieves to take everything from her. Leaving her empty-handed, abandoned, sucked, and finally thrashed.
She went home but didn’t tell this horrible incident to anyone, not even to her mother. She buried it deep down in her heart, and she didn’t want to rekindle the emotions to smother her breath again. She wanted to stay away from this exhausting memory, like a distant person, and to feel like it wasn’t associated with her. Sometimes she had to believe that it didn’t happen to her at all and maybe to someone (her friend? or foreigner?).
The sudden rise of this memory made her breathless, but she came to existence and relieved on hearing her daughter’s words. It gave a touch of heaven when she heard the word ‘rape’ is getting removed from the dictionary. Such a pleasure to know, but still, the dizzy feeling left her speechless. As time passes, everything will be all right. She started to believe that good things are happening, her confidence in men getting revamped, and happy to know that they are no more thieves and they are still kind-hearted to give a sense of relief to the women and protect them like a cocoon. Wow, such a good wish!
“Mom, shall we go and catch moon shuttle now?” her daughter Nina said.
“Sorry dear, I forgot this is getting late,” Anjali said with a brimming smile.