To Break Free or Stay Dominated in the World of Hypocrites

The Story of Reena, a Girl Who Finds Her Way Out of a Dire Situation

Reena's Story

She knew it was going to be the boldest thing she had ever done, but did she have a choice? Someone can suffer without retaliating only for so long.

When Reena left her house this morning, the coldness on her face was a proof how dead serious she was.

As she paced through the busy street, her mind relentlessly weighed over the options she had. Not that her decision would falter, she just wanted to be sure no mistake was made.

I cannot fail, she told herself.

It wasn’t much of a decent place where she lived, nor was her family any good on the financial front. After all she was the seventh girl in a family that lived somewhere in the narrow meddling streets of Daryaganj. Yet, Reena had done everything she could, to earn herself some respect in the society. She had completed her graduation and started working as a telemarketer for a small business firm, while most girls from her slum were still working as house maids, though Reena had always respected them for working hard and making their own livelihood. Much better than those boys who did nothing but snatched chains and purses from women, passed ugly remarks at them, and did everything possible to make the society a living hell.

Speak of the devil and he doth appear.

A group of boys stood at the end of the street, leaned against their bikes.

“Hey! Chikni Chameli! Come and sit with us, I’ll make you a queen,” one of the guys yelled. His mates burst in laughter.

Reena’s face turned red in anger. She almost dared cursing them back.

This is your moment.

Instead of ignoring them and carrying on ahead on her way like other days, she decided to take a walk to them. “Mr. Ajit Chaudhary, why not first become a man yourself, then claim to make others queens?” she snarled before their leader.

“You dare challenge my manhood?” the boy said angrily, getting off the bike and closing on his face at Reena’s.

“Oh! I didn’t mean your manhood. But, my bad, how would you know?”

“Shut up! You filthy w***e!” the boy cursed.

“Is that all you can do? Curse like sissies?” Reena mocked, smiling. She was herself surprised at her wits and mettle today.

Before the boy could speak again, a friend of his whispered something in his ear. Reena could almost guess what the other boy had said from his expression turning from anger to a vicious smirk.

“Meet me someplace private. I’ll show you what I can do,” he said.

“Really? Alright, I’ll give you a chance. Dare not disappoint me,” she retorted, teasingly. She did not wait for him to answer. She tucked a loose lock of her hair behind her ear sensually, turned on her toes and left.

“Six in the evening. Batra industries,” Ajit yelled behind her.

Bhai, ladki fass gayi. Reena overheard one of his friend mutter. A sinister smile spread on her lips.

Her mind was dipped in the ocean of thoughts, who are these boys? Not spoiled kids of rich parents. Not even children groomed at terrorist camps. These are normal kids, brought up in our own corrupt society. They contributed not a single good thing to the society, yet treated it as their own property. They could steal from anyone they wanted. They could beat anyone they wanted. They could harass any girl they wished. They could even rape any of them at their will. Yet, they rather gave girls the lessons on morality. “A girl shouldn’t wear short dresses or jeans. A girl shouldn’t go out late in the night, else they shall be raped.” As if they were the Gods who could pass judgments however they wanted.

Whoa, that’s just how sordid our society is to let these scums not only survive, but also proliferate. Who gave them the right to be what they are? Who were they to decide what should she do or not do? We, the public ourselves, did. Our police did. Our politicians did. A juvenile isn’t allowed to drive a motorbike to work, in fact, not even allowed to work to sustain his own life, but he is certainly allowed to rape. Some law we have. And, then very often a politician or two would come out and blame the girls for getting raped. They would dismiss the boy’s lust and criminal mindedness with simply a notion as meager as “a mistake”. If they cannot control their man parts, how is that a girl’s fault?

Her eyes were wet. Her closest friend, Payal, was raped a few months back by Ajit and his gang. She didn’t wear jeans or a skirt and it was a goddamn afternoon. Still the boys made the “mistake”. When she somehow made it back to her home, bloodied and wounded, not just physically but mentally too, her parents had looked at her with disgust. As if it had been her fault. They didn’t allow her to make a police complaint. “No. You cannot go to the police. You’ll defame us.”

As if those rapists deserve all the fame, while their victims are a national disgrace.

Payal was locked by her parents in their house, so she didn’t lodge a police complaint. Desolated and broken as she was, she ran away from her home with help from Reena and went to the police station. And, what for? To hear that she was lying about her rape. And, that she was a slut trying to frame innocent kids. If she could she would have murdered all those rapists, the policemen and even her own parents. Instead, she murdered herself.

Now, it was Reena’s turn. Her fault was that she had helped Payal. And, that she was beautiful. And, may be that she made a living working hard, which in the eyes of those ‘innocent boys’ was a work equivalent of a prostitute. Though, her most significant fault was being born a girl in a culture-rich India. What good is the culture that makes its own women slaves to misfortune? It was only a matter of days when she would be abducted from the streets before the entire world, taken to someplace deserted and raped. Or, maybe they’d like it better to rape her in a running auto rickshaw, since they couldn’t afford a car like their richer brethren?

If she couldn’t prevent the inevitable, she thought, it was better to give in and save herself from the brutality. I’m going to do it.

Her day at the office didn’t go so well. With so much going on in her mind it was hard to focus at work. Entire day and she got no client. It didn’t matter though. Her life was going to change. She didn’t know what it would be like when she wake up tomorrow, but it would be different she was sure. She would set an example.

She left her office early telling her boss that she was ill. Her boss was another example of perverted males, but that’s a story for another time. “You don’t look ill,” he had said.

“Have I ever looked dull to you?”

“That’s true too,” he had replied smiling. “Fine, you may leave, but stay late tomorrow to compensate for today.”

After leaving her office she went on to the nearest mall for some shopping. First, she bought a cheap but small smartphone within her little budget. Next, she went on to the kiosks and purchased a cheap kurta, legging and a scarf. And, last but not the least, she bought a butcher’s knife from the Big Bazaar.

If she could she would have loved to purchase some courage too. Sadly, that wasn’t something that could be bought, else the people wouldn’t be so coward to stand against all the wrongs our society is brimming with.

After purchasing everything on her list, she opened the newly bought phone, transferred her old sim into it. Then, she scrolled through her contacts and sent a text message.

As she walked out of the mall her phone rang. She picked it up immediately.

“Hey Reena, thanks for the message,” a female voice said from the other side.

“Hello, ma’am. Thanks to you for calling me back.”

“Anyhow, sweetie. I’m so proud of your decision. If there is anything I can help you with, just let me know,” the woman said.

“Will you meet me afterwards, say at about 7 or 8, today?” Reena implored.

“Definitely, come at the Starbucks café, C.P. I hope that wouldn’t be a problem?”

“Of course not. I’ll be there.”

Reena checked the time. It was already 5:30. “I cannot be late.”

She almost ran to her locality. The destined place, Batra Industries, was at a walking distance from the slum. It was a factory that had been closed for years after the government decided it was too polluting. Though the words were that Mr. Batra, the owner, made the mistake of refusing a bribe to the examining committee. He was too obstinate to do something as natural and necessary as bribing. He wasn’t wrong in believing that his factory met all the standards, but he was certainly wrong in believing that the committee would decide the same.

Once she was close enough to the factory she retrieved the scarf and tied it around her face, so that no one recognized her. Only after she had sneaked in through the closed factory’s front gate she removed the scarf. She found Ajit and his minions playing cards over drinks in the yard.

“There you… are,” the boy slurred. He was clearly too drunk to even speak properly.

“Here I am,” Reena replied, smiling.

Ajit gestured at his boys to keep watch, while he grabbed Reena’s hands and pulled her towards the edifice.

“Today… I’ll show… you… what kind… of man I am,” he said. With his trembling gait, he meandered more curvilinear than a snake.

Reena, while Ajit was looking ahead, quickly grabbed the phone from her bag and opened the video recorder. She placed the phone tucked in her blouse, so that the camera’s view was uninhibited.

“Why… don’t you… say something,” the drunk boy asked.

Reena kept her silence.

Once Ajit had pulled her into a hall and bolted its door from inside, Reena jerked his hand off and stood at a distance from him to get a good shot of his face.

“What are… you… doing?” Ajit asked, blinking his eyes hard to clear his view.

Reena stood in her place without as much as uttering a single word. She was aware that the camera was recording and she had no intentions of recording her own voice.

“Come in… my arms… and shed these stupid… clothes,” Ajit said. It was more of an order than a request.

Reena, obviously, ignored the order and stood like a statue.

Now, Ajit was expecting an easy prey, while Reena was being a pain in his bum. She was getting on his nerves. He decided it was time to go offensive. And, that’s exactly what Reena had intended.

“You ugly whore, don’t force me to get brutal, alright. Remember how I destroyed that pathetic slut of yours. What was her name? Yes… Payal. I slapped her, I beat her, and I raped her while she begged like a bitch. You want to end up like her? Hanging dead from your ceiling, your eyes popped out, your tongue falling out your lips blue and your heart stopped?” Ajit said furiously, his stammer was gone.

That was the exact moment Reena had been waiting. She hoped that the recorder had recorded everything.

Ajit pounced at her like a hungry predator.

Reena had the advantage of being sober. She simply backed off. Ajit followed with a few more failed attempts. Anyhow, that’s not what was going to give her a good footage. While Ajit wasn’t looking she picked the phone from her blouse and held it tightly in her fist. This is important for what I am going to do next.

Next time when Ajit grabbed at her, she let him get to her. His hand caught her blouse, ripping it right in the center.

He held the torn piece of cloth high in his hands like a spoil of war. “See this. I’ll rip you apart one by one.”

Reena made sure that the camera had got it all recorded.

One after one Ajit had shredded most of her clothes. Tears welled up around Reena’s eyes. She realized what she was doing was undignified in the eyes of the society, though in her heart she couldn’t feel more esteemed.

When she realized it had been enough, she brought the camera upwards recording her partially naked body from the sides, so that it showed that her clothes were torn, but not much of her skin.

She wasn’t afraid that the boy would know that she had recorded everything. She simply switched the recording off, while Ajit watched her in horror.

“What the hell did you do? You recorded it? Give the phone to me, or I’ll kill you,” he said.

Reena could sense a fear in his voice. Of course, she had no intentions of handing over the phone. She placed the phone back in her bag, while took that opportunity to clutch the knife’s handle in her grip. Though, she didn’t pull it out yet.

The furious Ajit ran at her to seize the phone. As soon as the boy was near enough, Reena pulled the knife out and in a clean stroke stabbed it in his throat.

Ajit grabbed his slit throat with his hands, trying to fathom the situation, stop the bleed and ease the pain, all at once. With the throat opened he couldn’t even scream for help.

Thankfully, Reena had done her homework well. While the boy was vulnerable, she stabbed him several more times in the belly.

It didn’t take him long to die.

Only thing Reena regretted was that she couldn’t make his death a long, suffering one. His friends were outside and she wouldn’t have much time on her hands. Of course, after Ajit was done with her, his friends would also have taken their shot at the girl for their pleasure.

She changed into the set of clothes she had bought and covered her face with the scarf and ran out through an open window.

I’ve done it.

It took her half an hour to reach CP on foot.

She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.

“What are you going to do now?” Mrinalini, the reporter asked.

“I don’t know. Run away somewhere far, start a new life while the wounds heal.”

“And, that would simply prove you guilty. His friends would testify against you.”

“A woman is always guilty in this nation. So, tell me, does it matter?”

“Stay here. Our channel will sponsor your case, I’ll personally see to it. We’ll prove it was self-defense. Start your new life here. I’ll also get you a job with us. Stay and be inspiration for others. Our society needs woman like you,” the reporter said.

Reena sighed and closed her eyes.

So, that was Reena for you. Somewhere inside all women, there is a Reena. If a woman is a symbol of Goddess Laxmi, Goddess Saraswati or Goddess Annapurna, she is also a symbol of Goddess Shakti, Goddess Durga, or Goddess Kali. However, yet, most of them end up being Payal. I wonder if Reena was real what would be her fate. Whether this male dominant society find her deed unacceptable and punish her, or deem it appropriate considering the situation she was in. Do share your views in the comments below. If you like the story and the hidden message through it, don’t forget to share the story with your friends and social circle.

Thank you!

  • I would like to congratulate you on this one. The storyline, plot and the way you carried it off until the end was all great.

    I had read about the line ‘She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.’ and the contest behind it. The way you weaved a story around it is praiseworthy. Keep it up!

    • Thank you, Hargun Wahi, for appreciating.
      And, yes, you’re right. Those lines belong to the TOI Write India Chetan Bhagat’s prompt. Though, I didn’t win the competition but I thought the story contains a good message and should be shared.
      I’m glad you liked the story. Thank you once again…

  • A gripping story! Yes there is a similar Reena inside every woman!

    • Thanks for appreciating, Indrani. It’s true there is a Reena in every woman. If all of them decides to break free, imagine how the scenario would change, and uplift the status and condition of women in India.

  • (The like bar in the side hinders smooth reading.)

    • I’ll do something about it. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Leena Walawalkar

    Oh my god, so intense and gripping, while being both dark and positive. Well-written Kishore!

    Grab your Liebster award here on my post:

    • Thank you, Leena. Glad you liked it

  • I wish it was easier being a woman! For some of us it is actually. But I can hear what you are saying.

    • Life for a woman is not easy, especially not in India. However, it can be changed. People like us who understand the problems must unite together and make things better by ourselves.

  • You have written it so well, from a woman’s perspective !
    Recently there was a writing competition by TOI where they invited stories with a blood stained knife , a purse and Starbucks in the story !! Wish you had submitted there would have been selected Kishor!