It was meant to be a slow and peaceful walk.
The two sisters, were walking in the familiar lanes of a neighbourhood, they knew, for almost six years now. The yellow street lamps did not light up the road really well, but well enough, to let some shadows form. It was 7:45pm on a Wednesday in 2002.
Both of them were going through their own milestones in life.
One had just completed her first year at a job she didn’t much feel at home with. While the younger one was waiting to join a college anytime soon.
They both were meant to part; in the coming weeks! The knowledge of an imminent farewell had organically brought them together in the evenings. And they discussed their plans for the life ahead.
They were engrossed in their silences as they headed on the road, which would turn to the left in a few meters and bring them, right outside a humble white house, they called their own.
Some of the most meaningful conversations between the two were often born out of deep quietude. Even otherwise their relationship was based on tolerance, understanding and love for the mutual differences they had, in the way, they perceived people and life in general.
The elder one was like water. And the younger, like jelly. They both made their way through the vessels of life with their own degree of identity, flexibility, purpose and poise.
It was that time of the day, when tired humans returned home, from a long day at work. Mostly, completely drained out. At this time of the day, human impatience was carelessly poured out, into the two tall glasses of honking and speeding. Not just the humans, even the day returned home to a dark night.
They were both in a place, from where, though they could see only a few cars and bikes. The vehicles were far ahead on a road that formed a T with the lane they were leisurely walking on.
The distance of the vehicles swallowed all the noises and nothing interrupted the shared calm and stillness of the space, between them.
They were walking carefree! Alone, together and then back alone! Such walks between siblings are essential in welding many memories of growing up together.
Into the walk for a good fifteen minutes and now, they were just a few steps away from steering to their left into their very own lane. They liked to walk past their own white house, and, hear their dog bark as he smelled and sensed their presence around the house.
Their walk was almost always on a circular route around their own white house. A house that waited for them always. Where those who had raised them, prayed for their safe return all the time, each day.
But even before they could turn left, things took a grotesque turn.
If sudden could be uttered with jerk, shock, fear, anger and pain all at once, it would sound like the soundless fall on the road! Her elder sister had SUDDENLY fallen. A momentary freeze response followed.
The elder sister who was walking on the busier side of the lane, being protective, as most all elder siblings are generally, was groped by a man and then pushed. The two of them were so lost in their respective calm that neither of them noticed him.
They had no foreboding. The man came from the opposite direction, riding on a bike. He rode the bike so slowly, that it made no noise, until he came just too close to the elder one, touched her breast, grabbed it and pushed her with his left hand and accelerated ahead.
The elder one fell down on the road after being pushed many steps backwards, as an aftermath of the abusive thrust.
The walk had a fall. And a silence too.
When a peaceful mind is intruded by a violent suddenness, it takes time to calm down. More so, when the violence is so deep, that it pierces through the very sense of dignity and wholesomeness and rips apart the flesh of sanctity, breaches the feeling of security, it needs a lot of time.
They had to gather not only themselves, but also their courage, grace and exasperation. And as they rose from the ground, the younger one picked the brick rubble, lying on the sides of the road, in both her hands.
In situations like these, her intuition guided her so well. Somehow, she knew, the man was unrelenting. He had dared to slow down his bike to hear out the ‘dares’ she had called out to him, forthwith the fall.
She knew he would come back.
And she was prepared. The ammunition was shared between the two.
They decided not to flee the scene by taking refuge in the white house where their dog now barked fiercely. They resumed the walk into their lane.
And, walked past their house, praying that the unwavering barking of their dog didn’t alarm their parents to check at the gate. Because, they wanted to win before they went in.
A few meters ahead and a couple of minutes into the walk, they could now see a biker over speeding towards them. They were sure. Yet, not entirely sure. But, with a yellow street lamp in this backdrop, the figure of the man resembled that of their abuser, and he was almost coming towards the younger one this time.
This time, they knew they were not going to fall. When the time to take shields has lapsed, the response needs to be quick as greased lightening.
They threw their hand missiles at the target and all he could do was to abandon his intentions and claim his flight response to catapult away from their sight and fight. As the uncouth rider exited their lane in fear of his safety, the beam of balance was steady. Parity was attained.
They both felt a sense of calmness despite the disquiet in their dispositions.
Like soldiers, they turned back and walked their way into the white house. They patted their dog, who intuitively knew the battle they had just won. After airing normalcy with much difficulty before their parents, they took turns to take a cool shower and wash the fierceness away.
They were back to being the water and the jelly.
Having enjoyed the simple yet delicious dinner with their parents, they headed towards the terrace with their dog. It was 9:50 pm. They had resumed their interrupted walk.
They walked quietly. The noises in their head walked in the space between them. Their dog, who walked ahead of them as their loyal friend and guard, now climbed over the wall of the terrace and started barking fiercely.
They both looked at each other. They quickly approached the terrace boundary, feeling their heartbeats louder. It was the same lane.
It was deserted now. They found their grenades lying on the road. Their heartbeats were now as calm as their dog, who had stopped barking and was now looking for a permission to go sleep. They decided to climb down the terrace and brush their teeth before sleeping.
“Just get me some volini or moov”, whispered the elder one as she retired to the room where they both slept together most often listening to some soothing hindi songs
The pain in her back was now growing. Her heart and mind, though, had already received a balm.
Image Source: Still from Drishyam, via Canva Pro