22nd December, 2012 was destined to be the day that scarred Meenakshi for the rest of her life.
It started out like any other Saturday, waking up late, relishing the fact that there was no college, breakfast in bed and so on.
In fact it had been perfect till the evening.
Her friend Kanika called her up sometime around 7 and asked if she was interested in watching the latest Ranbir Kapoor movie that everyone was gushing about.
- Yaa, ofcourse! What time is the show? Who else is coming? Please let this be a girls’ night out only!
- Sure babes, me, you, Rupali and Shikha. Sayak wanted to come along but am sure he will understand. Show’s at 9pm and you can all stay over at my place for the night. It’s been ages since we had a pajama party. I will pick you up at around 8.30pm.
Meenakshi was super excited as she put the phone down. She convinced her parents about the night out and got ready as quickly as she could, which just happened to be quick enough, because just as she stepped away from the mirror she heard the unmistakable honking sound of Kanika’s Nano outside.
Just one more look at the mirror and she took off, hugging her dad and mom.
Her dad stopped her just as she was about to leave.
- Listen Meenu, you be careful alright? You know how times are. Delhi isn’t getting any safer. Just call us for a minute after your movie is finished and when you reach Kanika’s place.
“Sure dad!” Meenakshi replied without thought.
Midway through the movie, Kanika got a call her from mother, her brother had been in a bike accident, it was serious.
Obviously all of them had to leave, Kanika was in tears, she had to leave and go straight to the hospital, to make matters worse, it was her car they had come in.
She however offered to drop off the rest of the girls.
It was Meenakshi who was the last one to be dropped, Kanika asked her if it was okay if she stopped the car a bit far from Meenakshi’s place and Meenakshi could walk home, else Kanika would have to take a long detour, usually Meenakshi would have refused, but seeing Kanika’s state, she just nodded silently. “Poor girl, what must she be going through. She had better reach the hospital soon” Meenakshi thought to herself.
It was around 11 ‘o’ clock but the streets were empty, Meenakshi wondered which route to take home. One was longer, but it was through the main road, and there were street lights, the other was much shorter but slightly shadier.
Pausing for a minute or two, she wondered if she should give her dad a call, but decided against it. She was in college now. She decided to take the shorter, darker route, figuring she would just reach earlier.
It didn’t take long for Meenakshi to realize that she should have taken the other route, it was dark and deathly quiet, difficult to see even a few feet away, all she could make out in the darkness was the darker shapes of the building in the night.
She decided to count to 400, she estimated that’s how long it would take to reach home.
Halfway through, she felt she could make out the shape of a person some distance away. She wasn’t sure.
Her heart froze when she realized that it was indeed a person, a person who was approaching her, at a brisk pace, the silence of the night now broken by her, and the stranger’s footsteps.
She paused, wondering if the person would just cross, he was just about 10 meters away now, and he slowed down. Observing her, he turned to her just slightly, and started taking slow, but decisive steps towards her, until she could feel his breath.
He is going to rape me, Meenakshi realized, a bit too late, she wondered if she should scream, tried, but her parched throat refused to let out any sound . She tried to protect herself, to push him away, but he just pounced on her and shoved her to the ground.
Meenakshi managed to put up a fight, she threw her purse at him and kicked him in the groin, something he hadn’t seen coming. He was hurt enough to let out a groan, and muttered a cuss word, and then “gayee tu ab”.
The world paused for a fraction of a second for Meenakshi, she later wondered if it was due to relief or terror.
She stood up shakily, but there was a change in her body language that the man could detect.
She asked “Dad, is that you?”