Sunday Poem By Jhilam Adhikary

It Happened

One day after women’s day
It happened
Returning from university
Like every other student
And this time it was a stranger
Should have happened years ago
And could have though
When I was stronger, younger, unaware
Like it usually happened back then
But it didn’t
For a change
Happened again after so many years
Happened when I was so surely sure
It can’t happen again
I’m older now, and it’s a new chapter
Happened again when I
Had finally regained the confidence again
To dare think that I too matter
Somehow for someone, at least there
At least as long as I’m there
If not beyond
But then it happened
And I was shattered
Not just because of the fear
That I may never reach home again
Or that I may never be there again
The mind isn’t that easy
But rather this constant threat every minute
What if I was wrong all along
What if for these past years too
I was equally unloved
A one-sided lover
If something were to happen to me
Who will really care?
What if I were to open my eyes tomorrow
And ask for the hand of my place
For any little support I was supposed to get
And my place closes it’s gates on my face
What if I just thought I belonged there
All along, just a thought, an illusion
What will I do if my place ever says,
“After all those signs you so often get
How dare you think you were needed?”
That was the only thought in my head
When I was still
As frozen as I usually am
When adults around me are existing
I thought about my place
And I questioned her love
When there was an unwanted hand
On my breasts
And I looked away as far as possible
Perhaps to another realm
Where minds don’t exist
I wouldn’t have known what had happened
Had he not asked me himself
“Are you liking it.”
And I almost thought
That statement (not a question)
Wasn’t for me
And it was just a tiny adult babbling
Until I felt his other hand harder
As he asked me to sit closer
And I noticed for the first time
From the glimpses I caught
From the rear view mirror
How different each auto driver looks
A face I saw
That would never get lost in the crowd
A tiny face with sunken cheeks
Thin avoiding thieving eyes
And moustache above his lips
Big ears and no beard
See how much I trusted my fate
That I couldn’t feel it happen
For the longest time
As I wondered
How can someone miss a stop twice
Maybe he was sick
Maybe he had weak eyesight
I didn’t know
I had never travelled alone before
But I was wrong
And every time in that long run
When I felt that wretched hand
That sharp elbow
It was deliberate
And I felt that fear too late
There should have been a shout
But I never learnt how to speak or breathe
When there are adults around
Once I was out
I walked
I never looked back
A weird lesson that I wasn’t ready for
Never travel alone on any road for any cause
On any bright afternoon
Always bring an extra person with me
Or bring an entire mob
To scream for me
To scream loudly and shout on my behalf
To punch and kick and jump on my behalf
Because I can’t
I’ll be frozen with anxiety,
Frozen with fear
When once again the time comes
When once again I’m groped by a stranger.

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