Last night the 23 year old medical student passed away.
They called her Damini. They called her Nirbhaya. They called her Amanat. They called her Braveheart. All those names don’t matter now. She will never know them. She will never know that she galvanised a nation, shook us out of our apathy, compelled us to raise our voices against what had happened to her. Because she was none of those names they called her. She was us. Each and everyone of us. We women of India. Every one of us who has walked down a street to lewd comments, who has been felt up in a public place, who has learnt to walk down a busy street without lingering, careful not to make eye contact, who has been asked what were you wearing, why were you out so late, what did you say to them, why did he pick you out from the crowd. She was the culmination of all our years of growing up in a country where you aren’t safe, whether in the womb, or in your home or on the streets.
For days, the country had been protesting. In Delhi. In Mumbai. In Bangalore. In so many cities and towns. Lying in a hospital bed, communicating through scraps of paper, her intestines torn out, with surgery on surgery, she kept saying “I want to live.” She gave a statement. We hoped she would survive, she would go on to lead a complete life, we hoped, despite ourselves that she would recover, she would complete her education, have a fulfilling career. We prayed for her. All the nation. All the candles. All the prayers. To no avail.
She was the anger in our heart, the anguish of the ‘It could have been me’ playing in all our minds. She was the embodiment of the fear every parent of every girl feels in their hearts when their child steps out, to go to school, to go to college, to go to work. The gut wrenching fear of whether their daughter will return home safe.
RIP. I don’t know your name. But I do know you made me cry.