'Who do you think you are?', Priya's angst-filled voice rang out loud and clear, 'How dare you hit me?' It had all the tones of a soul suppressed. It was as if the dam of all seventeen years of mild obeisance and blind compliance had given way and all of a sudden, there was the emergence of a deluge of rage and discontent which lay hidden behind it..
Priya had always thought that her only fault had been to be born in a society where the culture fraught with customs and stereotypes simply intended to keep the sexes away from each other and she unfortunately found herself on the side of the divide which was supposed to be satisfied on the insides of the four wall confines. It wasn't very easy for her, caught in between the pseudo-liberal carefree ideas that beckoned form the brash and unapologetic cities and the conservative steeped-in-tradition lives of the patriarchal villages. After all, what is a girl born in a developing city in India supposed to do? She knew that buying those denim shorts she wanted to wear would only draw the ire of her mother who in turn was afraid of the ire it would draw from her husband and the other men of the family, and she knew that wearing the customary three layers of heavy cloth would make her feel, in her mind, as though she hailed from a nigh-feudal period. Yet, for seventeen years, she delicately trod the tightrope, sacrificing much of what she sought with a smile on her face, simply content with losing herself in the works of Marquez, Adams and the like. And yet, when she heard of that dreamy Sufi-band coming to play in town, for once, if just once, she yearned to break free. She knew it would be plagued with boys, she knew it would not go unnoticed at home. She even knew that she would probably be told off severely by several elders in the family, but she cared not. She wanted to live life, and while all her 'friends' from facebook were going crazy with pictures and whatnot from concerts of all the star bands that had played in their cities, she did not see why she should be left behind. And thus, with stargazed eyes, she and a couple of friends, just as dreamy-eyed as her, made plans to get in and get out as silently as they could. It seemed all good until D-day when, as the band played, Priya was shaken out of her reverie to hear Kriti screaming at a bunch of boys standing behind her. And as she watched, much to her disbelief, she saw one of the guys reach out and place a hand on Kriti's waist, trying to drag her towards himself. It all seemed too surreal for Priya, the snake-like hissing of the boys, the wolfish stare in their eyes, the music being all but blotted out of her mind. And yet, she caught herself in time, as, realizing that there were policemen around, she began to scream for help at the top of her lungs. Kriti, who seemed too intent on yanking herself away from the pawing hands, finally gathered enough air to scream for help herself and was joined by Aditi, the final member of the trio. While the policemen came to their rescue, ensured their safety and returned them home with snide comments about staying where they belonged, only one thought flashed across Priya's mind. She had messed up. This was her one chance and she had messed up.
As she braced herself and listened to all the rebukes being hurled at her, head held down, she felt an anger rise inside her. An anger attached to one single image.. a wolf clutching her friend while a whole pack looked on, hungrily. And as the image grew sharper in her mind, the helplessness she had felt for a moment came clawing back at her, stronger than every other emotion she felt. And when her father came around to telling her how it was foolish of her to have made herself a target, she wondered what she had ever done to appear as a feast for those ravenous wolves. As she struggled to fight the tears back, she found another angry voice grow inside her. This voice seemed to emanate from much deeper and reverberated through her soul. As it grew, she felt every particle of her being rise in revolt against what comments were being directed at her. And finally the moment came, when she could take it no more and she whispered, 'Dad, you were supposed to protect me and instead, you seem to think it right to throw me to the dogs, because i deserve to be raped..' *slap* It seemed to touch a nerve as Priya stumbled for a moment, before all the anger and revulsion came back to her stronger than ever, and her angst-filled voice rang out loud and clear, 'Who do you think you are? How dare you hit me?'