Whenever I step outside of my home, a fear invades my mind. My heart starts beating faster by every passing second. My soul continuously warns me, "Zaina, something bad is going to happen."
But then I think, I have suffered the worst. What bad could happen to me? What bad could happen to a rape victim? What bad could happen to a girl who has already suffered the worst phase of life?
I don't understand how the word "rape" got it's meaning. How this word came into the society? Why nobody ever tried to destroy it? It's destroying millions of lives.
My life was perfect. I was a bright student, a topper, a scholar, in every sense I had a very bright future. But one accident ruined everything.
I was happily returning to home after tuition, suddenly someone grabbed me from behind. All I remember is just that, when I opened my eyes in the hospital, doctors told me that I was brutally raped.
Since three years, I am continuously asking God. Why this happened with me? What was my fault? That I am a girl?
I was depressed. I wanted to end my life. But why? Why should I end my life? I am not the culprit. I can't suicide. I have to live. Because I don't have any right to end my life. This life is given by God and only he has a right to take it away.
I tried to move on. My physical wounds now got healed. My internal wounds were still fresh. But those wounds were strengthening me. They were screaming, "Zaina, be strong. Don't act like a coward. There are many girls who suicide because they can't tolerate the humiliation. But you have to live. You have to prove that girls are strong."
And......I am living my life.
Whenever I walk through the streets, everyone notices me. Some says," This girl is so shameless."
Some says," Keep your daughters away from her."
Some says," Who will marry her?"
The society, we live in, is filled with sheeps. The sheeps which follow the majority. The sheeps which don't have a sense to make a judgement of their own.
That's why I decided that I am not going to mind these mindless people.
In college when I see men or boys, it reminds me that horrible evening. Males scare me. Some guys avoid me. Some keep distance with me. But some respects me from bottom of their heart. Because they also have sisters. They fear that what happened to me, could also happened to their sisters or daughters.
My father died years ago and I never had a brother. There was no man to protect me. And there will be no man to protect me. I have to protect myself. I have to protect my mother. I have to protect my younger sister.
This makes my willpower even more stronger.
Have you ever met an angel?
I have met.
My professor, Saanvi ma'am, she is an iron lady. She never changed her care towards me, even after my rape. She treated me like her own daughter. She taught me that," Girls are capable of protecting themselves, if they want. A woman doesn't need a man protect herself. Even Ram couldn't protect his wife, Sita, when people raised questions on Sita's character. Ram abandoned Sita. That's why girls should learn to become their own Ram. Today's Sita shouldn't need Ram to protect herself. She is capable of facing thousands of Ravan alone."
Another angel of my life is my friend, Naina. Yeah, Naina and Zaina, our names are rhyming. Naina is a tomboy and daughter of a very rich businessman. She takes full advantage of being rich. She never leaves a chance to beat the bullies with her expensive sandals. She knows that the Dean can't do anything against her. She is also a martial art champion and teaches self-defence techniques to other girls. I am proud of her.
Next one is Advocate Ram Sharma. The only man who makes me feel protected around him. He is a chivalrous man, he knows how to respect woman. He makes me believe that still there are some men alive on earth who remember how to respect women, who remember women aren't toys.
I like Ram since my childhood. But the problem is that he is a Hindu and I am a Muslim. In India, Hindus and Muslims have a unity. Sometimes disputes take place but that is all a part of dirty politics. But marriage out of one's religion is still not allowed in some backward regions. Unfortunately I am living in that superstitious, mindless and backward society. But my feelings never ended, he never let them end through his sweet gestures.
When I return to home after college and he sees me through the balcony of his home. He greets me," Assalamualaikum." with a salaam.
And in a reply I say," Jai Shri Krishna, Vakil Sahab." while joining my hands together.
I call him Vakil Sahab because I don't want to call him brother. There is no chance I am going to call him by this word till the time he is bachelor.
I was about to enter my home when Sunita Chachi called my name. "Zaina."
"Yes, Sunita Chachi?"
I walked towards the door of her home. She handed me a bowl. I can smell, it's Kheer. Yummy!
"This is Kheer for you. You like it right? And tonight is Laxmi's mehendi and sangeet. You have to come."
"Of course, I'll come."
Sunita Chachi and her family has always supported my family. They were the only people who were standing beside us when that injustice happened with me. They understands our pain because they also have daughters.
As I entered my home, as usual Aiza was studying and Ammi was stitching clothes.
My younger sister, Aiza Ahmed Khan, is eighteen years old. She is three years younger than me. She is tall while I am short-heightened. She looks strong, confident and mature while I look cute, timid and naive. We're totally opposite to each other.
My mother, Nazneen Ahmed Khan, is in her early forties. But wrinkles on her face makes her look older. Ten years ago, when my father died in a road accident, she took all the responsibilities of the house. She stitches clothes of people, but I hate it. Sometimes people even bargain for ten rupees. People are too stubborn to give her the money she deserves. I want to kill those people who mess with my Ammi.
At night, around eight'o clock, three of us started getting ready for the Mehendi and Sangeet ceremony. I noticed Ammi was looking at me. I understood, she is sad because she will never ever see me as a bride. Maybe marriage isn't in my fate. But I have decided, Aiza will have a lavish wedding. She will have everything she dreamt of.
When we reached Laxmi's home, Sunita Chachi welcomed us with a warm hug. I began mingling with other guests. I saw Haseena Chachi. Once this lady wanted to marry her son with me. But now she doesn't even talk to me. This world is filled with lots of selfish people like her.
Something seemed wrong. Laxmi was nowhere. Sunita Chachi, her husband Jagat Chacha and her younger daughter Mira, were looking tense.
"Sunita Chachi, is everything alright? "I asked her.
She pulled me with her to an empty room.
"Zaina, Laxmi hasn't returned from college yet. Ram has gone to find her, but he hasn't returned. Almost three hours have passed."
Suddenly Chachi's phone rang. It was Ram's call. She immediately told her husband and daughter to come inside.
She picked up the call. As she heard the call, her expression turned into grimace. She lost her balance. All of us helped her to stand properly. But she began crying.
"Sunita, what happened? What has Ram told you?" Jagat Chacha said in a worry.
"She's in hospital."