Who’s there?

15 Sep


It was 9:30 PM on a Saturday night. There was a power cut and I was sprawled on the bed fiddling with my phone. Suddenly the silence of the night was pierced by someone banging urgently on the door of my single room on the terrace of a religious and peace loving family. My body tensed. I immediately sat up, my heart thumping against my ribs. My brain went into a tizzy, trying to pinpoint who it could be. The banging continued. “Just a second”, I called out. The banging still continued, creating an annoying pressure on my head, not letting me think logically. I realized that I still sat frozen on the bed. Why was I so scared? Half a minute later, I reluctantly unlocked the door, my eyes searching for a sharp object close by, just in case. As I opened the door, the 6 year old boy who lived downstairs walked in, asking me if he could borrow a blue ballpoint pen. A nervous smile of relief came on my face as I handed him the pen with still trembling hands. I realized then that if I would have thought logically, I would have known that it could only be someone from the landlord’s family and that there was nothing to fear.


I had always been one of the bravest among my friends. Willing to sleep alone after a horror movie marathon, always ready for adventurous trips bordering on being dangerous, all the while never worrying about any possible mishap. It might have been naivety mixed with courage, nonetheless, a knock on the door never left me so flustered. What then worried me so much about the possibility of an intruder at my door in the safest of situations?


We all know that terrible things can happen. Rape, murder, domestic violence, they are all as common as petty thefts in today’s times. We read about them in the newspaper, express disappointment, frustration, pity and engage in heated unending debates and discussions about where the society is headed. Mid conversation, we look at our watches, exclaim at how late we are for a task, and hurry to continue with our lives. The news article we read a few hours back is soon forgotten amongst the haggle with the auto wala, the loud honks in the traffic, and the sweat beads rolling down the spine characteristic of the terrible heat in North India. As we go on with our daily business, the fear of being the victim in the heinous crime in the newspaper article does not cross our mind. Why don’t we shudder every time we step into an auto or a bus? Maybe it is the optimism and faith instilled in most of us that reiterates that the worst may never happen to us. It is a mechanism that helps us function effectively in a world where the crime rates only seem to be going up.


What was it then, that made me freeze at the banging on the door? What was it that shattered the belief that the worst may never happen to me? What was it that made me realize that the unfortunate girl in the newspaper could very well be me?


It is only when something terrible happens to someone like us that we realize that the reality is in fact, very real. That is when we realize that we might be the next. We all know about rape. But there is still a part of us that feels that it won’t happen to us if we do not dress provocatively and venture out late in the night. We all know about domestic violence. But we reassure ourselves by reasoning that the victims are only the hapless women belonging to the lower socio-economic status. Our mind wonderfully protects us from these worries, and rightly so, for it actually might never happen to most of us.


But is a close brush with the unexpected, the tremors of horror that ran through us as we witnessed something unimaginable, that raises all our guards, and impairs our senses, with just a harmless knock on the door.


2 Responses to “Who’s there?”

  1. Nicholas November 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    well said … anyone at anytime could very well fall victim regardless of circumstances or lifestyles … one should always be on guard, but not to the point of paranoia of course, although being totally carefree isn’t the best way to about it either ! ;D

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