Friday, 12 December 2014

Stop telling us to ‘be careful’. Tell them not to rape.

I recently had a heated argument with one my friends. Someone shared on group a message regarding Delhi gang rape and it was kind of a nice salute to the guy friend who was with the girl and who fought with her and for her until the end. I loved that message. Salute to the guy.
The argument started when another one of my friends commented on it. ‘But I think it was also their mistake. Why should they travel in a bus at that time in the night in country’s crime capital?’
And another sad part, the person who shared the message thought the same. Kudos.
‘With Shakti Mills Compound rape, she should have gone there with her whole team. Why go with just one more person and then go into the woods?’
Well, not everyone thought the same. The criminals were given death penalty, the first extreme punishment given to rapists in the country.
‘Don’t go out at stupid timings and offer yourself to the monsters.’
That was the sentence that threw me off. Stupid timing, eh? Like at night. Right. Well, if you just google ‘rapes in broad daylight’ you get search results that would shame the entire world. This is just as bad as saying ‘what were you doing on CST station when the terrorist came and shot you dead?’
Another statement: ‘Don’t venture into dangerous places till the mentality of these people change.’
What does one define as a dangerous place? A deserted area, subway, call centre, a club at night, a bus, a train. If you have to list down all dangerous places where rapes have happened there isn’t a single place left that you would call safe.
And according to surveys there are more unregistered marital rape cases and rapes by members of family or friends than actual strangers. That makes ‘home’ one of the most dangerous places to live. So now do you reckon we ‘be careful’ at home as well?
‘Until the mentality changes, be careful.’
What makes one think the women who did get raped weren’t careful or alert? They’d have trashed and writhed, threatened to go to police, tried to escape or tried to kill the rapist in extreme cases just as much.
Women have a natural instinct about certain things. Without looking we can tell which person is ogling at us, passing snide remarks or inconspicuously trying to follow us. When the woman instincts kick in there isn’t an ounce of doubt we try our best to be safest. We might take a cab instead of a bus home, we can disappear in a crowd and stand around a bunch of other women in a crowded place to avoid the coward, we might keep our loved ones’ phone numbers on emergency contact list or check where the nearest policeman or policewoman stands. We are more careful than any of those people who ask us to be give us credit for. But that’s the point. Being careful’ was never the solution. And it never will be.
‘It takes time to change these people’s mentality.’
Agreed. But then as educated modern generation we should do something than just sit there hands crossed over shrugging the whole situation by saying the number of sex starved people is just too huge to be bothered. If you want to change this mentality any time in the near future, start with yourself. Stop with blaming the victim and trying to treat her as a ‘poor creature’.  Give her equal respect. Stop looking at her like she isn’t a human anymore. And most importantly, stop telling her to be more careful the next time. Tell them not to fucking rape.
The saddest part of the argument though was the person arguing with me was a woman. And no matter how much I love her, this is the part where I'll have to disagree with her through and through.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Writing Workshop Day 1 Exercise #1

I recently attended a creative writing workshop held by Half Baked Beans in collaboration with Of heroes and villains on how to write a short story. The lecture lasted for about three hours with four writing exercises. Fun, creative and interactive, I had a great time with each one.

       In the first exercise Deepali Junjappa, author of The twisted twenties and our instructor, gave us each a different photograph and asked us to write half a page scene without directly describing it. That way you had to tap your inner creative reserves and come up with a story, a scene or an incidence that is directly or subtly connected with the picture. Time constraint: twelve minutes that extended to fifteen.

This was the picture I got:
Photo credits: Deepali Junjappa
I loved that photo and it looks like it has been taken straight out of some movie. Other five Polaroid styled pictures were equally  catchy. For this exercise, this is what I came up with:

‘I told you to leave early. Radio just announced a storm is on its way,’ my mother wails on the phone. I hug my bag closer to my chest and bury my freezing palms in my sweater.
‘I’ll be there in a minute,’ I tell her and disconnect to distant protests. The last thing I want to do right now is pacify a panicked woman. I need to get out of this place before both my migraine and the storm hits.
I walk down the narrow street smiling at a man lounging on a far bench. I find him sitting by that deserted bench every single day, amidst worn down buildings. It is our regular routine, smile at each other while I pass by every evening. Today I want to ask him what he is still doing outside and if he knows about the storm. But I don’t.

That is tentatively where I ended it. I had no clue where I was going with that narration and I was as lost as most others, but I managed to come up with something to start off with. Time was so little I spent the first minute panicked. The second in being convinced I’d never write a piece worthwhile. The third in calming myself down and studying the picture.
The expression of woman and a lonely man sitting at the back was what intrigued me. So I used them and to add a hint of tension, threw in a little storm thing.

All in all, I loved the idea of crafting a story around a simple photo and the fact that I didn’t chicken out. This exercise could have been much better had I been prepared. But maybe that was the whole point. Seeing how creative you can get when you’re least prepared and creating something quick with limited information and time.