Joined: 27 December 2006
The day had started out to be very usual. She had to go out with her sister to give the wedding invitations to her sister's friend. Why was she needed? She had no idea. Maybe for moral support? But then again, she never really did go inside her sister's friend's house. She stayed outside with her cousin, talking and making jokes. He was practically a real brother to her. After what seemed to be half an hour, her sister marched outside. Her sister bid goodbye to her friend, smiling shyly as she walked away from her friend. Her sister, then, met her gaze and smiled again. She smiled back, knowing how happy her sister must have been after meeting her friends after such a long time.
"Achcha, kya hum ab chaat khane chal sakte hai? Main sabse zyaada crave chaat aur pani puri ko karti thi waha par!" She said while referring to America.
Her cousin smiled and shook his head at her childishness. He led her two sisters and her towards the masjid (mosque), near which the famous chaat stall was. She grinned as she marched next to him and her sisters in triumph. This was going to be fun!
As they made their way towards the masjid, her brother prompted her other sisters to go inside. "Why don't we visit the mosque first, and then Zoya and I will go to the chaatwala to get us all some chaat?"
Hearing this, she grinned again. She knew that she would be taken along to the chaatwala since she was the youngest, so she didn't mind one bit. After they were done praying and visiting the mosque, her two sisters waited while she went with her cousin to the chaat stall that was right next to the mosque.
"Now tell me, what do you want on your chaat and how much you want it?"
She eyed the chaat stall hungrily as she prepared her order in mind. Making up her mind, she promptly ordered for her and her sisters (keeping in mind that her sisters eat less spices than her). Her brother shook his head again affectionately at her.
"Yahiin par ruk kar pura chaat khana hai ya phir next time ke liye bhi kuch chodna hai?"
"Well, soch rahi thi ke abhi sab khaloon lekin phir meri behnoon ko kaun khilaega?" she laughed as she finished her statement. The man preparing the chaat also laughed along with them.
Her brother shuffled out a 100 rupees bill from his wallet and gestured to give to the man. The man looked at her cousin, puzzled.
"Bhai, humare paas 100 rupe toote huwe nahiin hai. Aap ko kahiin se ja kar iska change lana parega!"
Her brother looked at him, exasperated but decided against arguing with the man. He nodded at the man and turned towards her. "Yahiin ruko, I will just be back!"
She nodded, and she saw her brother making his way towards another stall that was across the road, a bit far from them. She folded her hands and sighed while waiting.
Suddenly, she heard loud whistling noises. She didn't pay any heed to them. However, they became more frequent and louder. She knew it would be best not to look at whoever was whistling, so she only gave them a sideway glance. Three guys. They were all staring at her and smirking. She stiffened a bit, but it went unnoticeable by the guys. She looked around slowly, taking her surrounding in while weighing her options. It's daytime. They probably don't have enough guts to do anything right now. Her heart thudded as she heard the whistling going louder and louder. She felt the panic rise from her spine, as she tried to stand taller and look even more confident. She was not going to let them win.
As they came nearer, she could feel their gazes on her. Despite being fully covered, despite having a burqa (a hijab/covering that Muslim girls use to cover themselves), despite having a scarf covering her head, despite having half of her face covered (with only her eyes showing), she felt completely exposed. Chills ran through her spine as she felt fear rising from the depth of her heart. What was she going to do? She looked around, a little frantically this time, in order to find an escape. The stall-man wouldn't be able to help her, since he himself was a scrawny little man. She looked down at her feet, noticing and cursing herself for wearing heels. If she did decide to run, then she wouldn't be able to run far away. An idea suddenly hit her. Why doesn't she use her heels as a way to drive them away? She rolled her eyes at the most clichd sounding idea that had to pop in her head. Still, it was better than nothing. She was about to kneel down to get her shoes when she felt their voices, way to clear, from beside her. This was probably not the best way to kneel down.
She took a shaky breath and looked up at the sky, "Allah, I swear, ab kabhi complain nahiin karoongi ghar ke kaam karne par agar inse mujhe kisi tarha se escape mil gaya! Please Allah, madad kar. Help!"
It was as if her prayers were answered, because she felt a firm grip on her shoulders, trying to get her out of the way. She turned towards the grip to find another girl, wearing similar outfit standing beside her, while looking at the guys.
"Kya tum stupid ladko koi aur kaam nahiin hai? You street rats! Jab man kiya, dum daba ke aagae. Abhi ruko, abhi dikhati hoon!" Saying this, the other girl took out a red colored spray from her bottle. "Achcha kabhi pepper spray feel kiya hai? Well let me tell you boys, it's really spicy!"
Saying this, she shook the spray and started spraying towards them, while shielding her face and eyes so it wouldn't harm her. The guys started to back away quickly. After few moments of spraying, she turned towards Zoya.
Zoya looked at her shocked at the sudden turn of events. The girl took her hands and nudged her towards the masjid again. Before being dragged away, Zoya looked towards her brother who was racing towards them. After seeing that Zoya was safe, the girl stopped nudging her. Zoya looked towards the girl in gratitude. Seeing this, the girl raised her hands at Zoya as if to tell her to stop.
"Ab please, thanks mat kehna. If anything, tum lucky thi ki main aagai." After little pause, she looked at Zoya, "Tell me this. What are you so afraid of?"
Zoya looked towards the girl, confused.
"Why didn't you fight back? Did you think they would stop if you didn't say anything? These people feed on your fear. The more you show that you are weak, the more fun they will have with you."
Zoya shook her head violently, as if denying her claims, "No, I wasn't scared. I just...I wanted to pick my shoe..."
"And do what?" the girl raised her eye brow at her. Even though Zoya couldn't see her face, she was sure the girl looked at her incredulously. "You can't do anything with your heels. They are too strong. Use your brain!"
Zoya looked towards her brother, who was still pretty far away. She was getting very uncomfortable with this chat. "Look thank you for saving me. You're right. I am not sure what I would have done but I wouldn't just stay here while they bullied me. I assure you!"
The girl sighed. "Listen, I know that you don't want to hear it but still. Take my advice. Always be ready. In a city like this, it's very common. We can't wait around for others to protect us. We can't wait for any knights in shining armor or brothers in disguise. We have to be our own strength. No one's telling you to be a superwoman. Just be cautious. Carry a pepper spray, ok?"
Her heart warmed from the way the girl talked to her. She smiled, without realizing that the girl can't really see it.
"Besides, you're fully covered. They can't tell who you are. So, if you do put up a fight, it's not like they can take any revenge from you," the other girl shook with laughter as she tried making a joke to lighten up the atmosphere. Zoya sniggered along.
As the other girl saw her brother approaching, she bid Zoya goodbye and turned around. Zoya stopped her, "At least tell me your name so I know who to always remember in my prayers."
The girl slowly walked away, with only a soft, "Salma."
Her brother came back in a hurry, "Are you ok? I am sorry that I...I didn't realize that..."
She smiled at her cousin, "Everything is fine. Allah protected me. Don't worry."
Saying this, they took their chaats with them towards the masjid. Zoya gave one last look towards the road and whispered a "thank you."
It was at that moment that Zoya decided that she was definitely going to learn some self-defense. It was not a matter of choice anymore. It was matter of necessity. Moreover, this was not just for herself. It was for the courage and bravery that she could show to other girls so they could learn how to stand up for themselves, just like her. She wanted to be like her farishta. She wanted to have courage, and to show it when it was needed. She wanted to learn how to stand up for herself first, before she stood up for every female who becomes a victim to such things.
The following 3 member(s) liked the above post:
.scarlet., girivanam, bookworm-ALS--,
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