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My dear, dear Delhi, what has become of you?

As a journalist you often read and write about crime and a point comes when writing the number of dead becomes a routine and you do not feel the loss anymore. In fact you do not find it interesting enough or you do not even consider it a story worth mentioning, if the number of casualties were too low or if the violence was not too brutal. But also there comes a time when words fail you, something so horrendous happens that it does not just touch you; rather it shakes you to the core. The last few weeks have been like that for me. Sure, the 23 years old girl who died after the gang rape in the Indian capital wasn’t the only one to have suffered at the hands of such ‘machos’. Yet, a strange sadness surrounds me.

Sadness… Or is it fear? Fear of that amazing city I grew up in. I do have a love-hate relationship with this city. I love it to the extent that I can’t imagine my life without it; I hate it to the extent that I can’t imagine a life with it. My dear, dear Delhi, what has become of you? I have seen you grow. You’ve grown with me. But you’ve become dirtier, filthier and beyond repair. I have experienced so much with you, I have learnt so much from you. You taught me how to struggle to keep myself safe; and that you did by giving me lessons.

How can I ever forget that I was with you, dear Delhi, when my bottom was first pinched, so what if I was just nine?  It was you, dear Delhi, who taught me never ever to wear a skirt while travelling in a public bus because a male hand might reach up as far as possible, obviously by mistake. I can’t even decide which horrible memory of you shocked me the most: Was it that crotch pressing against me in a crowded bus or when I was confronted by a man who pulled out his sexual organ in an effort to intimidate me?

I was saddened and disgusted when you gave me those lessons. Today, I am surrounded by the same sadness, filled with the same disgust; and as each passing day unfolds a new layer settles on what is already there. It just keeps adding up.

As if raping the girl wasn’t enough to prove their manhood, the six accused had to tear up her vagina with iron rods. And now I learn that they even tried to run her over after throwing her out of the moving bus. And as if that was not enough, we now even have a song on YouTube celebrating the rape, ‘main balatkari hu’ (I am a rapist). It makes me wonder where this aggression comes from.

Let us face facts: Our legal system has not been able to provide adequate laws to support and protect women. After all, what can I expect from a judiciary which calls for a finger test to confirm a rape; implying that once a woman ‘is habitual of having sex’ she is allowed to be raped.

And then it is our society: ‘Of course it is her fault, what on earth was she doing on that road after sunset?’ I hear a lot of people asking that (most of them women). And yet there are others who claim legalizing prostitution would solve the problem (in this case most of them men).

I must admit that all this frustrates me and makes me aggressive at the same time; and at times I do feel like echoing the voices of those protesting in Delhi’s chilly mornings, demanding the culprits be hanged or their sexual organs cut off. But isn’t that the same kind of aggression that is reflected in that heinous act of rape? Doesn’t that show how frustrated we are as a society?

‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. It saddens me to see that my dear city is going blind. And what is worse is that this great city does not stand alone; it is a reflection of the whole nation. It deeply saddens me to see how my nation is losing its sight. Oh dear Delhi, what have they done to you; my dear, dear Delhi, what has really become of you!

Author: Isha Bhatia
Editor: Grahame Lucas



04.01.2013 | 10:46