Have you ever wondered- ‘Why do you call the place where you stay my home? Why do you call your birth place as my native place and the country you belong to as my motherland?’
I know you will think that I am asking irrelevant questions. No, I am not. Let’s see how:
I am Mouli Dutta. I am twelve years old. I don’t remember exactly from when I have been invaded at nights by a monster. After the first invasion, I go to my mother and narrate her about the night monster. I tell her I feel two wipers. The wipers go up and down from my chest to my thighs. I feel uncomfortable when the wipers pass through my breasts pressing them hard and going down between my legs touching and rubbing my secret part. My mom laughs and says, ‘Your story is interesting.’ And every night, the monster comes for a few minutes. Months roll by. One night, with all my strength, I thought of facing the monster alone. As the monster starts its game, I screamed. My parents rush to my room and put the lights on. The monster is my elder brother. My mother gives him a tight slap and asks me to bolt the door every night. The chapter is closed behind the door. No more discussions, no more questions and I have been asked to keep quiet forever. At a tender age of 12, I know I am safe only within the four walls of my room. I am not safe in my own home. I see cruel creatures ready to tear me apart. I wish I had a safe place to go. Tell me friends, where am I supposed to go? Can you think of any place safer than your home?
I am Abhijit Deka, 30 years old, from Guwahati, Assam. I want to expand my business and for this I need to go to some of the interior districts of my state. Nilotpal Das, a 20 years old artist, from Guwahati also joined me in my last trip. I never had the slightest clue that I will never return home again. Nilotpal and I cannot prove to our fellow friends that we are neither intruders nor child traffickers. We are lynched in public. Our identities are questioned in our own state. We beg them, but they do not listen to us. And as we breathe our last, our eyes question everyone, ‘Tell us friends, how are we supposed to convince you that we are Assamese, we are from Assam?’
I am Snehasini Sinha. I am 16 years old. I always walk back from the bus stop while returning from school. It is just 10-mins walk. One afternoon, I was walking back as usual. I had put on my earphone. I was listening to some music. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my back. I stood there motionless. A man, riding a bike, passed me. The bike entered the next lane. I increased my speed and almost ran towards my home. I told my mother. She asked me to change my route. I have questions, ‘What is my mistake? Why I am taught to avoid? Why I need to live with the headlight of fear ringing everywhere I go? Tell me friends do you know any place where I can roam around without the fear of someone watching me?’
Now, tell me what do you think? Friends, look around and I am sure you too will find many such stories. I don’t read newspapers nor do I watch the news on television. They scare me. All these years, I have read enough stories of crime, rape, murders etc. Now my hands shake as I turn the pages of a newspaper or switch to different news channels. Do you know when I walk through lonely streets?
I fear Snehasini’s story may repeat with me or Damini’s? I hope you all remember Damini. Hope she has not become a forgotten history so soon. I fear to plan a trip with my friends. I am afraid I will not come back home just like Nilotpal and Abhijit.
I know friends if ever any such incident happens to me you all will do peace rally, protests, candle march etc like you did in the past. But with time, all this will become history in your memory and you all will move on. You will remember me, but the question arises till when? Or the easiest answer is till the time another such story replaces me…
I leave you with this question – ‘Am I a stranger in my own land?’